Tropical Waxweed / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Tropical Waxweed (Cuphea aspera)

From May to July, the flowers of Cuphea aspera can be seen. These flowers have 6 lavender petals, 5-15 mm long pedicels, and a hypanthium with glandular hairs. Photo Credit: Cindy Campbell
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Lythraceae
  • State: FL
  • Nature Serve ID: 144873
  • Lifeform: Forb/herb
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/05/1993

Cuphea aspera is a perennial herb that produces flowering stems that are 8-16 inches tall. On these stems, small pinkish purple flowers appear from June - July. Leaves are rough and hairy, lance or oval shaped, with entire margins. The common name (waxweed) comes from the waxy or sticky feel of the upper stems, flower stalks, and flower tubes of the species, which are also covered with purple and white hairs. This species is found only in three counties in the Florida Panhandle. Of these populations, few are protected and many are threatened by encroaching development. (FNAI 2000; Clewell 1985)

Where is Tropical Waxweed (Cuphea aspera) located in the wild?


Found in Mesic Flatwoods, Wet Prairies, and on Seepage Slopes in Florida. (Coile 2000) Prefers moist soils, grows well on roadsides.


This species narrow range is limited to Calhoun, Franklin and Gulf counties in the Florida panhandle. (Coile 2000)

States & Provinces:

Tropical Waxweed can be found in Florida

Which CPC Partners conserve Tropical Waxweed (Cuphea aspera)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

  • 10/05/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seeds are in permanent storage at the National Seed Storage Laboratory.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

This species has a very narrow range, restricted to the central Florida panhandle in Gulf and Franklin counties. 32 occurrences are believed extant, although some of these are in close proximity and might be considered the same population. This shade-intolerant species' open pine flatwoods and wet prairie habitat has largely been converted to slash pine silviculture; many extant occurrences are located in ruderal habitats such as roadsides. Threats include fire suppression, development, herbicide use, and incompatible mechanical disturbance such as mowing during flowering or disking/chopping.

Nick Baker
  • 01/01/2010

Habitat is being destroyed by encroaching development. A shade intolerant plant, this plant has also lost much of its habitat due to fire suppression. (NatureServe 2001) Other threats include roadside mowing and herbicide applications.

Nick Baker
  • 01/01/2010

About 20 populations are known, most on private timber company lands. (FNAI 2000)

Nick Baker
  • 01/01/2010

Seeds are in permanent storage at the National Seed Storage Laboratory.

Nick Baker
  • 01/01/2010

No active management of this species known to be in progress.

Nick Baker
  • 01/01/2010

Study the biology of the species and use that knowledge to implement necessary management plans. Currently FNAI (2000) recommends burning every 2 - 3 years. Avoid ditching, draining, bedding, or other disturbance to soil and hydrology. Determine true range and population locations.


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Taxon Cuphea aspera
Authority Chapman
Family Lythraceae
CPC Number 1150
ITIS 27095
Duration Perennial
Common Names Chapman's waxweed | tropical waxweed
Associated Scientific Names Cuphea aspera | Parsonsia lythroides | Parsonsia chapmanii
Distribution This species narrow range is limited to Calhoun, Franklin and Gulf counties in the Florida panhandle. (Coile 2000)
State Rank
State State Rank
Florida S2
Ecological Relationships


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