Plants of
South Australia
Heliotropium curassavicum (∗)
Boraginaceae
Smooth Heliotrope
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 4.

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. Curassavicum mean of or from Curacao, Leeward Islands, West Indies; presumably where the type specimen was collected.

Distribution and status

Found across the eastern half of South Australia, growing in saline soils. Also found in all mainland states. Non-native. Introduced in South Australia. Introduced in the other states.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Flinders Ranges
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Annual or perennial herb, prostrate, smooth, succulent-looking and glaucous. Leaves narrowly obovate to narrowly elliptic, to 40 mm long and 10 mm wide, shortly petiolate, the apex obtuse, the margin not revolute or undulate. Inflorescence terminal spikey clusters with white to pinkish flowers with the throat yellow. Flowering between November and April. Fruits are brown capsules with 4 segments that open at maturity. Seeds are brown sectoroid seed to 2 mm long and 1 mm wide; smooth surface. Seed embryo type is spathulate fully developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between March and August. Collect mature capsules 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.