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Publication #FPS005

Acalypha pendula Dwarf Chenille Plant1

Edward F. Gilman2


This ground-hugging, fine-textured relative of the more common chenille plant grows no more than several inches tall. In the full sun it forms a thick canopy of tiny, serrated leaves no more than 3/4 inches long by 1/2 inches wide (Figure 1). Bright red, fussy flowers stand erect above the foliage like soldiers in a field.

General Information

Scientific name: Acalypha pendula
Pronunciation: ack-uh-LIFE-uh PEN-dyoo-luh
Common name(s): dwarf chenille plant
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Plant type: ground cover
USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Figure 1. 

dwarf chenille plant.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]
Uses: hanging basket; ground cover; cascading down a wall
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant


Height: 0 to 0.5 feet
Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]
Spread: depends upon supporting structure
Plant habit: spreading
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: serrate
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: red
Flower characteristic: year-round flowering


Fruit shape: unknown
Fruit length: unknown
Fruit cover: unknown
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerance: unknown
Plant spacing: 18 to 24 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Well suited for a hanging basket, dwarf chenille plant will cascade nicely over a wall if planted close to the edge on top of the wall. This plant makes a good ground cover provided people are kept off of it. Like ivy, it tolerates foot traffic poorly. The small stature and slow growth make it a nice addition to a rock garden or other small-scale landscape design.

Dwarf chenille plant performs well in many types of well-drained soils. It grows and flowers best in full sun, with little care other than occasional irrigation needed to maintain the plant once it is established.

Pests and Diseases

There are no diseases of major concern associated with dwarf chenille plants. Scales, mites and aphids may be troublesome pests in some landscapes, especially when plants are grown in partial shade.



This document is FPS005, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised October 2004. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.