Stem erect, simple or branched from near the base, 2-5 dm, pubescent with incurved hairs; petioles about a fourth as long as the blades and usually shorter than the bracts they subtend; blades nearly linear to oblong or narrowly elliptic, 2-5 cm, obscurely crenate to entire; pistillate bracts usually arcuate-recurved, 5-10 mm, shallowly lobed into 9-15 deltoid or ovate, usually glandular segments; staminate spike mostly 5-15 mm, usually conspicuously exceeding the bracts; seeds 3 (except in var. monococca), 1.5-2 mm; 2n=40. Moist or dry, sandy soil, open woods, fields, and meadows; Me. to Wis., s. to Fla. and Tex. Many southern plants (n. to s. Ill.) have more elongate staminate spikes, to 3 or 4 cm, and have been distinguished as var. fraseri (M
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
In dry or moist, sandy soil. Our specimens are from pastures and from along railroads. This species and the preceding one [Acalypha virginica] are united in our manuals but they are very distinct. The habitats within the known distribution are quite different. The distribution of this species in Indiana offers an interesting problem.
Indiana Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 3
Wetland Indicator Status: FACU
Diagnostic Traits: Bracts 9-15 lobed, stipitate-glandular; petioles <0.5 as long as blade.
Deam makes a vague allusion above to a distribution problem. Some have recognized two varieties of A. gracilens and perhaps that is at play. Regardless, it does appear that the species occurs in two distinct regions of the state: the southern 1/3 of Indiana and the NW quarter.