BLUE WAXWEED CLAMMY CUPHEA TARWEED
(Parsonia petiolata; Cuphea viscosissima of Gray) Loosestrife
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
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