Virginia Copperleaf

Biological Name:

Acalypha spp. (Virginia-Copperleaf)

Natural Habitat:

The Virginia-Copperleaf is native to the southeastern United States, particularly in and around the state of Virginia.


Virginia-Copperleaf also known as Acalypha is a plant that is native to grassland and prairie regions of North America. It is an annual herb that can grow up to three feet tall and it has large copper-colored leaves and small white or pink flowers that bloom in the summer. The plant is known for its colorful foliage and it is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is Virginia copperleaf poisonous?
A: This weed is a North American native that is found from Maine to Georgia and as far west as Texas and north to South Dakota. It is a member of the spurge family and is poisonous, but it does not have the milky sap that is typical of other family members.

Q: Is copperleaf poisonous to dogs?
A: On the other hand, these are some that get the all-clear for both cats and dogs: African violets, aluminum plant, peperomia, cast iron plant, chenille plant, copperleaf, areca palm and Rex begonias.

Q: Is Virginia Creeper poisonous to touch?
A: Although Virginia creeper leaves does not contain urushiol, the irritating oil found on all parts of poison ivy, the sap can irritate highly sensitive people. The berries are poisonous, as they contain a high concentration of oxalic acid, which is moderately toxic to humans and dogs.

Q: What is the most violently toxic plant in North America?
A: Water hemlock is the most violently toxic plant that grows in North America. Only a small amount of the toxic substance in the plant is needed to produce poisoning in livestock or in humans. The toxin cicutoxin, acting directly on the central nervous system, is a violent convulsant.

Q: What is the most toxic plant to humans?
A: The oleander, also known as laurel of flower or trinitaria, is a shrub plant (of Mediterranean origin and therefore, resistant to droughts) with intensely green leaves and whose leaves, flowers, stems, branches and seeds are all highly poisonous, hence it is also known as “the most poisonous plant in the world””.”

Q: What is the most poisonous plant in Virginia?
A: The most familiar of Virginia’s poisonous plants is poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans.

Q: Is Virginia copperleaf invasive?
A: Native to eastern US; not invasive and can be managed by hand weeding and then mulching. It is resistant to drought and attractive to songbirds who eat the seeds in fall and winter. Deer browse its leaves.

Q: How big do copperleaf plants get?
A: Most Copperleaf cultivars grow 5-7 feet tall. Some of the smaller leafed cultivars may be a bit shorter. They will tolerate pruning and can be kept trimmed as a smaller shrub. They can also be cut back hard in spring or summer if they get too leggy.

Q: What’s the most invasive plant?
A: Kudzu. 1/16. Commonly seen vining throughout the southeastern United States, the perennial kudzu originally hails from Asia. … English Ivy. 2/16. … Wisteria. 3/16. … Barberry. 4/16. … Butterfly Bush. 5/16. … Purple Loosestrife. 6/16. … Norway Maple. 7/16. … Japanese Honeysuckle. 8/16.

Q: Does Virginia creeper have invasive roots?
A: Virginia-creeper is an alien (non-native) invasive plant, meaning it out-competes crowds-out and displaces beneficial native plants that have been naturally growing in Ireland for centuries.

Q: What is Virginia copperleaf good for?
A: Dr. Louis H. Pammel (1862-1931), an American botanist and conservationist from Wisconsin, wrote in 1911 that Virginia copperleaf had uses as a diuretic and expectorant. Diuretics help the body remove fluids in your body and expectorants help treat coughing.

Q: Is copper leaf toxic?
A: Copperweed contains an unidentified toxin that is dangerous at all times. Toxicity reaches a peak when the plant matures. Leaves and stems are equally toxic.

Q: Is Virginia Creeper a good plant?
A: Virginia creeper is extremely useful to wildlife. A variety of birds feed on the berries and many animals (squirrels, mice, deer, chipmunks, etc.) feed on the stems and leaves. The thick foliage provides shelter for wildlife.

Q: What can Virginia Creeper be used for?
A: Native American Uses: An infusion made from Virginia Creeper was used to treat jaundice. Also, a compound decoction of twigs was used as a wash to counteract poison sumac. The plant was also used as an herbal remedy for diarrhea, swelling, lockjaw, as well as a urinary aid.

Q: How fast does copperleaf grow?
A: Copperleaf is a good summertime plant for the mixed flower border or large container where a plant that will grow 5 feet tall in a few months can be accommodated.

Q: Is common three seeded mercury toxic?
A: Three-Seeded Mercury (Mercury III) is a mineral that is commonly found in the soils of the United States. It is also commonly found in the waters of lakes, streams and rivers. It is considered to be a toxic substance and can cause health problems in humans if ingested.

Q: What is copper leaf used for?
A: Copper leaf is a thin metal foil used for accenting home décor items and finishing surfaces.

Q: How do you get rid of Virginia copperleaf?
A: Broadleaf weed killer (click for sources) and any of the glyphosate (click for sources) products will kill copperleaf. The key is to pull or kill the weed before it drops seed, which it can do only a few weeks after germination.

Q: What kills Virginia pepperweed?
A: Mow and apply herbicide such as imazapic when perennial pepperweed is in the flower bud stage; then repeat chemical mowing in late summer to plants that have resprouted.

Q: How do you stop Virginia creeper from growing?
A: When established, Virginia creeper will most often not be controlled with a single herbicide application, and multiple applications will be necessary to achieve acceptable control. Only nonselective postemergence herbicide (glyphosate) must be used to suppress or control this weed.

Q: Should Virginia creeper be removed from trees?
A: If the vine covers the leaves of the tree, it may significantly weaken the tree by reducing the tree’s ability to feed itself through photosynthesis. As long as the tree has a significant percentage of its leaves in the sunlight, this is not a great concern. The tree and the vine also compete for water.

Q: How do you get Virginia creeper off your house?
A: It is very easy to get rid of a Virginia creeper when it is young. Simply pull its roots out by hand or a shovel. You can also kill this vine organically using white vinegar, mulch or rock salt. A glyphosate herbicide will also kill a Virginia creeper.

Q: What kills Virginia creeper vines?
A: To kill Virginia creeper, your best bet is to use a product labeled for tough brush, like Roundup® Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer products, making sure to follow the directions on the label. As with most weeds, controlling Virginia creeper is easiest when the plant is small.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.