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Cuphea hyssopifolia

Family Name: Lythraceae
Synonyms: Cuphea rivularis, Ammania hyssopifolia
Common Name: False Heather, Hawaiian Heather, Elfin Herb, Elfin Plant, Cuphea, Clammy Cuphea, Corail, Tarweed, Mexican Heather, Heather, 细叶雪茄花, 满天星
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Bee Attracting Plants Ornamental Flowers Woody


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub (Woody)
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 0.6 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 0.6 m


Native Distribution Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form An erect to spreading, low-branching, compact, free-flowering subshrub with finely-textured leaves.
Foliage Leaves simple, subsessile (with slight stalks), opposite, pinnately-veined, oblong, sometimes elliptic, glossy, medium to dark green, 10 to 30 mm long, 1.5 to 4 mm wide, with pubescent (covered with hair) undersides.
Stems Multi-branched, puberulent (covered with soft, fine hairs) and reddish strigose (appressed stiff hairs).
Flowers Flowers solitary in the axils of new leaves, trumpet-shaped, pedicels 2 to 7 mm long; petals 6, purple, 3 to 3.5 mm long; sepals crinkled, rarely absent; calyx 5 to 8 mm long; floral tube pale green, sometimes turning purplish toward apex, glabrous or slightly pubescent. 
Fruits Fruit capsules dehiscent, leathery or berrylike, oblong-ovoid, 1-celled, up to 3.5 mm long, containing numerous seeds; seeds reddish brown, suborbicular, 1 to 1.5mm in diameter, pitted.
Cultivation Tolerates many soil types but requires ample moisture to become established in full sun or semi-shade. Prefers well-drained fertile soils with frequent light fertilizations. When plant becomes scraggly, tips can be pinched to incorporate vigour and to attain lush growth and more blooms. Easily propagated by softwood cuttings. Obtaining new plants from seed is difficult due to very poor germination rate. Plant also reproduces by layering, whereby the horizontal branches touch the ground and set roots.
Etymology The genus epithet ‘Cuphea’ comes from the Greek word kyphos, means curved, in reference to the shape of the seed capsules. The species epithet ‘hyssopifolia’ refers to the shape of the leaves which are like those of the herb Hyssop. Not a true heather, the leaves resemble to those of Scotch heather (Calluna vulgaris), thus derived its common name false heather.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bee-Attracting

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Purple

Image Repository



Master ID 601
Species ID 1896
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 14 October 2021.