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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include: Cuphea, cigar plants

Latin Name: Cuphea ssp

Plant Family: Lythraceae

Close Relatives: N/A

Uses and Markets: Industrial; medium chain fatty acid oils for chemical and personal care products. Bioenergy; oil could be used for biodiesel production.

Cuphea ignea plants in flower (photo credit: Norman Chan,
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Different species have different seed oil compositions.  Breeding to overcome seed pod shattering, frost sensitivity, and unpredictable flowering are ongoing.

Propagation method


Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Early to mid-May.  Seed at 9 kg/ha at a depth no greater than 1cm.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing


Between row spacing

40-60 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.  Research from the U.S. indicates cuphea to be a medium N demand crop, with 140 kg N/ha (fertilizer + soil N) being the optimum amount.  Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

All soil types.

Soil pH

Acidic to alkaline soils.

Special requirements for growth habit

Cuphea has a shallow root system (0.5m) and requires good water availability throughout the growing season for maximum seed yields.

Optimal Temperature Range

Temperate climate (24˚C optimum).

Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

Cuphea exhibits in determinant and continuous flowering.  The crop requires 120-140 frost free days to mature.  A chemical desiccant may be used to dry down the crop more uniformly.

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades in Canada.

Additional Harvest Notes

Significant seed loss can occur from seed pod shattering.  Plants are covered with sticky hairs that make machine harvest difficult. 

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Harvested seed is dried to 10% moisture.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): N/A

Temperature: N/A

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: N/A

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

None identified in Ontario to date.

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera), flea beetles, stilt bugs, caterpillars (tobacco hornworm, corn earworm, fall armyworm, others)

Diseases: White mould (Sclerotinia sclerotiourum)*, nematodes


*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 


The sticky hairs are thought to aid in deterring insect pests – non-sticky cultivars may have more problems with aphids and other insects. Early season weed control will be important due to slow initial growth of this crop. To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: n/a – limited production in Ontario to date. Cuphea hyssopifolia is in the revised Crop Group 20:  Oilseeds Group (revised 10/05/07)  and subgroup 20 A: Rapeseed Subgroup. Other species of Cuphea are not in a crop group. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile


  1. Behle, R., T. Isbell and S. Cermak.  2004.  Cuphea – Exploring insect interactions with this new oil crop.  Abstract – Entomological Society of America, North Central Branch Annual Meeting.
  2. Berti, M.T., B.L. Johnson, R.W. Gesch and F. Forcella.  2008.  Cuphea nitrogen uptake and seed yield response to nitrogen fertilization.  Agronomy J. 100(3):628-634.
  3. Gesch, R.W., F. Forcella, N. Barbour, B. Phillips and W.B. Voorheees. 2002.  Yield and growth response to Cuphea to sowing date.  Crop Science 42:1959-1965.
  4. Gesch, R.W., F. Forcella, A. Olness, D. Archer and A. Hebard.  2006.  Agricultural management of cuphea and potential for commercial production in the Northern Corn Belt.  Industrial Crops and Products.  24:300-306.
  5. Gesch, R.W. and F. Forcella. 2007.  Differential sensitivity to temperature and cuphea vegetative and reproductive growth.  Industrial Crops and Products. 25:305-309.
  6. Gulya, T., R. Gesch, C. Bradley, L. Del Rio and B. Johnson.  2006.  First report of Sclerotinia sclerotiourum infection on cuphea.  Plant Disease Note 90:  1554.
  7. Kim,. K-I., R.W. Gesch, S.C. Cermak, W.B. Phippen, M.T. Berti, B.L. Johnson and L. Marek.  2011.  Cuphea growth, yield, and oil characteristics as influenced by climate and soil environments across the upper Midwest USA.  Industrial Crops and Products.  33:99-107.
  8. Knapp, S.J.  1993.  Breakthroughs towards the domestication of Cuphea.  In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds), New Crops. Wiley, New York. P 372-379.
  9. Phippen, W. New and Alternative Field Crops:  An Updated View. 
  10. Sharratt, B.S. and R.W. Gesch.  2004.  Water use and root length density of Cuphea spp. Influenced by row spacing and sowing date.  Agronomy Journal.  96:1475-1480.
  11. Tisserat, B., R.H. O’kuru, S.C. Cermak, R. L. Evangelista and K.M. Doll.  2012.  Potential uses for cuphea oil processing byproducts and processed oils.  Industrial Crops and Products.  35:111-120.