Mercurialis annua is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family known by the common name annual mercury. It is native to Europe but it is known on many other continents as an introduced species. It grows in many types of habitat, including disturbed areas. This is an annual herb growing 10 to 30 centimeters tall with oppositely arranged oval leaves each a few centimeters long. The plant is mostly dioecious with male and female plants producing different types of inflorescence, Mercurialis annua can also be found to be monooecious or androdioecious, their complicated sexuality makes them the ideal model plant for studying sexual systems in plants.
The male flowers are borne in spikelike clusters sprouting from leaf axils, and female flowers grow in clusters of 2 or 3. The fruit is a bristly capsule 2 or 3 millimeters wide containing shiny, pitted seeds.
Isorhamnetin-3-rutinoside-4′-glucoside, rutin, narcissin (Isorhamnetin 3-rutinoside), quercetin-3-(2G-glucosyl)-rutinoside and isorhamnetin-3-rutinoside-7-glucoside can be isolated from the methanolic extract of M. annua.
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