Acalpha hispida

Chenille plant

Chenille plant

Chenille plant, Philippines Medusa, Red hot cat's tail, Fox tail

The female plant bears flowers that look like catkins- long, pendulous, crimson red, and fuzzy. It is the flowers that give the plant its various common names.

At the Botanical Center we refer to the plant as the Chenille plant. Chenille is French for caterpillar which is what the red fuzzy flowers resemble particularly if you handle them and make them move. Americans pronounce chenille (sh' kneel) like the material that is used in bedspreads, but that pronunciation in French means dog kennel, so be aware of your audience when sharing this information. The correct French pronunciation is (sh' knee), but that will probably confuse Americans.

The plant thrives in hot humid summer climates and it will flower all year long in favorable temperature conditions such as those at the Botanical Center. It makes a good houseplant and it can be placed outdoors in the summer.

All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested by animals and the sap (it is in the euphorbia family) may cause skin irritation.