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Useful Tropical Plants

Cuphea carthagenensis

(Jacq.) J.F.Macbr.

Lythraceae

+ Synonyms

Balsamona pinto Vand.

Cuphea balsamona Cham. & Schltdl.

Cuphea divaricata Pohl ex Koehne

Cuphea pinto Koehne

Lythrum carthagenense acq.

Parsonsia balsamona (Cham. & Schltdl.) Standl.

Parsonsia pinto (Vand.) A.Heller

Common Name:

No Image.

General Information

Cuphea carthagenensis is an erect to sprawling, more or less annual plant, though it often becomes more or less woody at the base and can persist for more than 12 months. Usually much-branched, it can grow up to 50cm tall[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
,
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].
The plant is commonly harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is sometimes cultivated for medicinal use and is also sold in local markets[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
]. This is one of several species in this genus that have been identified as potential commercial seedcrops in the temperate zone, being grown for their oil which is rich in medium-length fatty acids. It is unlikely to become a useful crop in the tropics because of the abundance of other oil crops such as the coconut (Cocos nucifera). The plant is often grown as an ornamental, especially in tropical and subtropical climates.
The plant is grown as an ornamental and has often escaped from cultivation - it is classed as a weed in many tropical and subtropical areas and is deemed invasive. In Indonesia, for example, it dominates corn (Zea Mays) plantings and is considered one of the worst ten weeds. On Vanuatu, it is a serious pest of coconut (Cocos nucifera) groves and in pasture. It is also a weed of taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Fiji[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/

Range

S. America - Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, north to the Guianas and Ecuador; Caribbean; C. America - Panama to southern Mexico

Habitat

Mostly found in moist or wet soil, meadows, thickets, open banks, sandbars along streams, often a weed around dwellings or in waste and cultivated ground; at elevations up to 1,800 metres[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitAnnual
Height0.40 m
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Cuphea carthagenensis is a plant of the tropical regions of central N. America, but is said to be suitable for cultivation as an annual in parts of the temperate zone. Continental areas with hot summers, and Mediterranean regions have been specifically mentioned, the most important factors are the length of the growing season and the amount of summer heat required to ripen the crop.
Prefers a light to medium soil texture, which can be free, impeded or seasonally waterlogged. It can grow in acidic, neutral or alkaline soils[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].
Cuphea has only been investigated as a potential commercial crop for a few years, and still has the characteristics of a
wild plant. Those characteristics that differ from cultivated plants are its propensity to seed shatter, its indeterminate flowering nature, and its overall stickiness. If these wild traits can be overcome, Cuphea's chemistry, coupled with the annual and therefore renewable nature of the plant, certainly can make it a new crop for the temperate zone[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
].
This species is self-fertile[
1206
Title
Advances in New Crops. Proceedings of the First National Symposium NEW CROPS: Research, Development, Economics
Publication
 
Author
Jules Janick and J.E.Simon (eds.)
Publisher
Timber Press, Portland, Oregon
Year
1990
ISBN
0-88192-166-1
Description
This book is the proceedings of the First National Symposium on New Crops held October 23-26, 1988 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The contents include papers from invited speakers, papers derived from posters, and abstracts from poster presentations
].
This is a very common and variable weedy plant almost throughout Central America except at high elevations[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
].

Edible Uses

An oil obtained from the seeds has the potential to be used in foods[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
].

Medicinal

The plant has a wide range of traditional medicinal uses, being known as sete-sangrias. It is most commonly employed in Brazil, but it is also used in other countries, including Nicaragua[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].

The leaves and aerial parts of the plant are used traditionally to treat a wide range of disorders. They are said to be anticholesterolemic, cardiac, diuretic, hypotensive, and laxative. They ae used in the treatment of conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, circulation problems, anaemia, fever, inflammation, stomach aches, kidney stones, vaginal infection, weakness, worm parasites, diarrhoea, intestinal infection, syphilis and varicose veins[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
,
1209
Title
A comprehensive review of Cuphea (Lythraceae)
Publication
Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences 2(3):847-855 · July 2011
Author
Mohamed R Elgindi; Nahla Ayoub; Rola Milad and Reham Hassan
Publisher
 
Year
2011
ISBN
0975-8585
Description
Gives information on the traditional medicinal uses of various cuphea species, and also a review of modern research and the compounds the plants contain.
]. The astringent plant decoction is taken as a general remedy, and is also used as a remedy for malaria[
1209
Title
A comprehensive review of Cuphea (Lythraceae)
Publication
Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences 2(3):847-855 · July 2011
Author
Mohamed R Elgindi; Nahla Ayoub; Rola Milad and Reham Hassan
Publisher
 
Year
2011
ISBN
0975-8585
Description
Gives information on the traditional medicinal uses of various cuphea species, and also a review of modern research and the compounds the plants contain.
].

An infusion of the leaves is used to treat colds and chills[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].
The stem and leaves are macerated in rum and then rubbed onto sprains[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

Due to its widespread use in traditional medicine it has gained attention for modern clinical uses, particularly for cardiovascular disease. Clinical tests have shown that it is effective in reducing plasma cholesterol, and in eliciting vasodilation. This is likely a result of the species containing quercetin-3-sulfate, which when metabolized to quercetin has a vasodilator effect. Pre-clinical data indicate a potential role in the treatment of hyperlipidemia[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
]
Tests have shown that extracts of the plant have antiviral activity. The extracts have also shown activity against gram negative and gram-positive bacteria, and has also produced anti-anxiety effects in mice[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Cuphea carthagenensis can tolerate some extreme conditions. In Hawaii, for example, it has been found in strip mined bauxitic soils whilst, in Florida, it has colonized reclaimed phosphate mines[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].
In the US it has been suggested to plant Cuphea in rotation with corn and soybeans every three years. If grown this way Cuphea can help disrupt the life cycle of corn rootworms - pests that account for more pesticide use on US row crops than any other insect. (Corn rootworms can cost up to $1billion per annum in control and yield losses)[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
]

Other Uses

The seeds, although small, are a potential commercial crop for their oil. The oil is a good source of medium length fatty acids - these oils are usually obtained from tropical sources such as palm and coconut oils. This species is particularly rich in capric acid (81.4%)[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
].
Industrial oils made from these acids are valuable commodities as they have the potential to replace others made from imported palm kernel and coconut oil. Lauric acid, for example, is used in foods, mostly as vegetable shortenings, as a defoaming agent and a booster for soaps and detergents[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
]..
Medium chain length fatty acids (e.g. Lauric and myristic) are used in detergents and health and beauty products. Statistics show that 71,000 tonnes of lauric acid oils were processed during 1991 in the EC; they originated from Copra (i.e. Coconut) and Palm kernel[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
]
Cuphea oil has been used as an alternative to coconut oil in soaps, detergents and other products[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
]

Propagation

Seed - can be sown in situ[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Germination usually takes a few weeks because of the hard seed coat.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2020-05-25. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Cuphea+carthagenensis>

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