Family • Lythrceae - Cuphea hyssopifolia Kunth - FALSE HEATHER

Scientific names

Cuphea hyssopifolia   Kunth
Parsonia hyssopifolia (Kunth) Standl.

Common names

Kupea (Tag.)
False heather (Engl.)
Elphin plant (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

BANGLADESH: Rani phool.
FRENCH: Jean gaiac.
CREOLE: Radie raide.


Kupea is a small evergreen much-branched subshrub growing to 1.5 meters. Stems are semi-woody, slender and crooked. Leaves are green, opposite, stalkless and numerous on the branches, narrow-lanceolate, up to 1.5 centimeters long. Flowers are small, purplish violet to light purple with green calyx.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Preliminary studies on Campomanesia xanthocarpa (Berg.) and Cuphea carthagenensis (Jacq.) J.F. Macbr. aqueous extract: weight control and biochemical parameters / Journal of Ethnopharmacology Vol 93, Issues 2-3, August 2004, Pages 385-389 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.04.015

(2) Cuphiin D1, the macrocyclic hydrolyzable tannin induced apoptosis in HL-60 cell line / Cancer Letters Vol 149, Issues 1-2, 28 February 2000, Pages 77-83 / doi:10.1016/S0304-3835(99)00344-4

(3) Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana)

(4) Antitumor activity of four macrocyclic ellagitannins from Cuphea hyssopifolia / Ching-Chiung Wang et al / Cancer Letters, Volume 140, Issue 1, Pages 195-200 (1 June 1999)

(5) Cytotoxic effects of cuphiin D1 on the growth of human cervical carcinoma and normal cells / Wang C C, Chen L G and Yang L L / Anticancer Res. 2002 Sep-Oct;22(5):2677-84.

(6) Constituents of Organic Extracts of Cuphea hyssopifolia / José Antonio Morales-Serna, Eréndira García-Ríos, Domingo Madrigal, Jorge Cárdenas, Manuel Salmón* / J. Mex. Chem. Soc. 2011, 55(1), 62-64

(7) Antioxidant and Cytotoxic Activities of Cuphea hyssopifolia Kunth (Lythraceae) Cultivated in Egypt / Mohamed Elgindi, Nahla Ayoub, Rola Milad*, Reham Mekky / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, Vol 1, No 4, 2012

– Recently introduced to the Philippines.
– Popular as a hedge plant.
– Propagated by stem cuttings.

Chemical constituents and properties
• Study isolated two new ellagitannin dimers, cuphiins D1 and D2, with six known compounds including oenothein B and woodfordin C from the aerial part of Cuphea hyssopifolia.
• Contains flavone pigments.
• Aerial parts yielded diterpenes and flavonoids: friedelan-3β-ol, ursolic aci, methyl gallate, quercetin, quercetin-3-O-α-rhamnopyranoside, 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-β-D- glucose and manitol.
• Methanol extract of aerial parts yielded valoneic acid dilactone, 1,3−O−digalloyl-4-,6hexahydroxydiphenoyl- β-D−4C1-glucopyarnose, gallic acid, genistein-7-O-β-D-4C1 glucopyranoside, myricetin−3 − O− β-D−4C1-glucopyarnoside, 3, 4, 5-trimethoxy benzoic acid, vanilice acid and quercetin.

– No recorded folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
– In Brazil, used to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides.
– In French Guiana, stem and leaf macerated in rum and rubbed onto sprains. Leaf infusion used for colds and chills.
– In Bangladesh, used as tonic and insect repellent; also used for dermatitis.

Study Findings
• Cholesterol Lowering : Biochemical analysis of animals treated with aqueous extract showed a significant reduction of plasma cholesterol in rats; no effect was noted on glucose and triglyceride levels.
• Cuphilin / Anti-Tumor Activity: Study isolated cuphilin D1 (CD1), a new macrocyclic hydrolyzable tannin, has been shown to exert in vivo and in vitro antitumor activity. Further study showed CD1 induced cytotoxicity to HL-60 cells (human promyelocytic leukemia cells. The CD1-induced apoptosis was attributed to inhibition of Bcl-2 expression in HL-60. Cuphiin D1 (CD1) significantly inhibited the growth of human cervical carcinoma, i.e. HeLa cells, with less cytotoxicity to normal primary-cultured cervical fibroblasts. CD1 also inhibited Bcl-2 expression in HeLa cells and may account for the Cd1-induced apoptosis.
• Anti-Tumor / Anti-Cancer: Study isolated four macrocylic tannin dimers: cuphiin D1, cuphiin D2, cenothein B and woodfordin C. All significantly inhibited the growth of the human carcinoma cell lines KB, HeLa, DU-145, Hep 3B and the leukemia cell line HL-60. Results suggest the anti-tumor effects of the compounds are not only related to their cytotoxicity on carcinoma cell lines but also on some host-mediated mechanism.
• Antioxidant / Cytotoxic: Study evaluated the antioxidant and cytotoxic activities of a methanolic extract of aerial parts of C. hyssopifolia. The antioxidant activity in DPPH testing was comparable to that of ascorbic acid at 98.35%. It showed moderate cytotoxic activity along tested cell lines viz MCF7 (breast carcinoma cell line), HEP2 (larynx carcinoma cell line), HCT116 (colon carcinoma cell line) and HEPG2 (liver carcinoma cell line.