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BLUE WAXWEED CLAMMY CUPHEA TARWEED







(Parsonia petiolata; Cuphea viscosissima of Gray) Loosestrife family Flowers - Purplish pink, about 1/4 in. across, on short peduncles from leaf axils, solitary or clustered. Calyx sticky, tubular, 12-ribbed, with 6 primary teeth, oblique at mouth, extending into a rounded swelling on upper side at base; 6 unequal, wrinkled petals, on short claws; 11 or 12 stamens inserted on calyx throat; pistil with 2-lobed stigma. Stem: 6 to 20 in. high, branched, very sticky-hairy. Leaves: Opposite, on slender petioles, lance-shaped, rounded at base, harsh to the touch. Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, waste places, fields, roadsides. Flowering Season - July-October. Distribution - Rhode Island to Georgia, westward to Louisiana, Kansas, and Illinois. A first cousin of the familiar Mexican cigar plant, or fire-cracker plant (Cuphea platycentra), whose abundant little vermilion tubes, with black-edged lower lip tipped with white, brighten the borders of so many Northern flower-beds. Kyphos, the Greek for curved, from which cuphea was derived, has reference to the peculiar, swollen little seedpod. From a slit on one side of the clammy cuphea's capsule the placenta, set with tiny flattened seeds, sticks out like a handle. Probably the flower has already fertilized itself in the bud, although, from the fact that the plant has taken such pains to punish crawling insect foes by coating itself with sticky hairs, one might imagine it was wholly dependent upon winged insects to transfer its pollen. What an unworthy relative of the purple loosestrife, whose elaborate scheme to insure cross-fertilization is one of the botanical wonders!





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