Plants of
South Australia
Heliotropium asperrimum
Boraginaceae
Rough Heliotrope
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Vulnerable
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Adelaide
Arkaroola
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Hawker
Innamincka
Marla
Marree
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Oodnadatta
Renmark
Wudinna
Keith
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1.

Etymology

Heliotropium from the Greek 'helios' meaning sun and 'tropos' meaning turn, probably alluding to an early belief that the flowers turned to face the sun. Asperrimum from the Latin 'asper', meaning rough.

Distribution and status

Found from the far north-west corner down to the Murray River in South Australia, growing on rocky hillsides, sandstone slopes, open granite country, near watercourses, on stony soil and on stony red earth. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Rare in Victoria. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, South Eastern
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Ascending to spreading perennial shrub to 100 cm tall, with long and short simple and glandular hairs on the stems, leaves and calyx. Leaves narrowly elliptic, sub-oblong to obovate, to 85 mm long and 16 mm wide; shortly petiolate, the apex obtuse to acute; the margin revolute and slightly undulate. Inflorescence terminal clusters with numerous white flowers. Flowering throughout the year, often between August and October. Fruits are brown sub-oblong to narrowly sub-oblong capsules to 3.2 mm long and 1.7 mm wide, with 4 segments which fall off at maturity. Seeds are dark brown kidney-shaped seed to 2.5 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, with slightly wrinkled surface. Seed embryo type is spathulate fully developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between May and December. Collect mature capsule, those that are drying off, turning brown and contain dark, hard seeds inside. Can collect individual fruit cluster or break off whole heads. Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for one to two weeks. Then rub the fruits gently by hand to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. From two collections, the seed viability was average to high, ranging from 75% to 100%.

Seeds stored:
  Hide
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
 
MSB

700 (1.12 g)
40+30-May-2010KHB432
Flinders Ranges
75%
 
MSB

540 (0.71 g)
500+22-Aug-2010KHB472
Flinders Ranges
100%
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.