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Blue Waxweed, Clammy Cuphea, Tarweed - Cuphea viscosissima


Family: Lythraceae - Loosestrife family Genus Common Name: Waxweed Native Status: Native
Cuphea viscosissima - Blue Waxweed, Clammy Cuphea, Tarweed. Cuphea viscosissima is native to the eastern United States, and has been introduced into Ontario, Canada. It is lists as a plant of Special Concern in Connecticut.

An oil derived from the seed of this plant (and others in the Cuphea genus) is used in some cosmetics and skin lotions, and its potential is being explored for nutrition and for biofuel.

Found in:
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, VA, VT, WV

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Cuphea viscosissima

Distribution of Cuphea viscosissima in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 30 Mar 2017). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

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Site: Blue Hole Cedar Glade, Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2012-October-12Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The Blue Waxweed blossom has 6 purple petals, 2 upper, larger petals, and 4 lower, smaller petals. The 2 inner petals of these 4 are smaller than the outer petals. The flowers are quite small, probably around 1/2 inch from petal tip to petal tip.
Cuphea viscosissima

Site: Blue Hole Cedar Glade, Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2012-September-24Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Cuphea viscosissima is highly branched. The flowers are usually solitary or occasionally in pairs in the upper leaf axils.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Cuphea viscosissima

Site: Blue Hole Cedar Glade, Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2012-September-24Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The calyx tube is relatively long compared to the petal length, and is ribbed. It is covered with short, sticky, glandular hairs, as is the rest of the plant. It is possible that the insect is stuck to this calyx.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Cuphea viscosissima

Site: Blue Hole Cedar Glade, Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2012-September-24Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The plant grows to about 2 feet tall. There is some purple coloration in the stem and calyx.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Cuphea viscosissima

Site: Blue Hole Cedar Glade, Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2012-September-24Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The common name “Clammy Cuphea” is derived from the short, stiff sticky hairs that cover most of the plant. The species epithet “viscosissima” reflect the sticky nature of the plant. The leaves are opposite, and up to about 2 inches long.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Cuphea viscosissima

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer