Cuphea P.Browne


Greek kyphos — curved, referring to the bowed capsule.

Annual or perennial herbs or subshrubs. Leaves opposite, rarely whorled, stalked; stipules bristle-like. Flowers in cymes or raceme-like clusters, occasionally solitary, irregular, 6-parted. Calyx tube swollen or spurred at the base, ribbed. Ovary of 2 carpels and incompletely 2-chambered. Fruit a capsule splitting down 1 side.

C. carthagenensis (Jacq.) J.F. Macbr. from C and S America is naturalised in moist situations in NSW and Qld. C. caeciliae Koehne from Mexico is a perennial to 0.5 m tall with elliptic leaves and orange-purple flowers although the petals are inconspicuous. C. micropetala HBK, also from Mexico, is a larger perennial to nearly 1m tall.

260 species from C and S America with a few species extending into Peru.

Shrubs by cuttings, herbs by seed or division.

An extract from some species is used as a substitute for palm and coconut oils.

Lourteig (1988), Graham (1988, 1989, 1990, 1998).

Source: Spencer, R. (2002). Lythraceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 3. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 2. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Hero image
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Myrtales
family       Lythraceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species         Cuphea ignea A.DC.