Heliotropium europaeum L.

Common Heliotrope

Sp. Pl. 187 (1753) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Erect annual, to c. 40 cm high; indumentum of tubercle-based greyish hairs. Leaves elliptic to ovate, 1.5–7 cm long, 5–30 mm wide, apex obtuse, base cuneate, margins flat, both surfaces hairy; petiole to c. 30 mm long. Inflorescences usually branched. Sepals lanceolate, 2.5–3.5 mm long, acute, shortly connate, not elongating; corolla 4–5 mm long, throat glabrous, hairy outside, white with a yellow throat, tube c. as long as lobes; anthers acute, apices free; style very short, stigma c. 0.75 mm long, papillate. Mericarps 4, dry, falling at maturity, glabrous or pubescent, rugose, brownish. Flowers Nov.–Apr.

*CVU, *GipP, *Gold, *HNF, *LoM, *MuF, *MuM, *MSB, *NIS, *RobP, *VRiv, *VVP, *Wim. Also naturalised WA, SA, NSW. Native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia. A widespread weed primarily of lower rainfall areas.

Some debate exists as to whether this species is naturalised or native. Craven (1996) considered it to be native, based largely on its first apparent collection (from the head of Spencers Gulf) in 1802, but Kloot (1983) raised the possibility that this collection may have been of a species other than H. europaeum. Plants in Australia apparently show a range of variation similar to that found in European specimens, rather than those of Asian origin. This indicates a probable European origin for the Australian plants, most likely from southern France or Italy (Moore 1956). The species is poisonous to livestock.

Source: Jeanes, J.A. (1999). Boraginaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 4, Cornaceae to Asteraceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2018-07-17

Craven, L.A. (1996). A taxonomic revision of Heliotropium (Boraginaceae) in Australia, Australian Systematic Botany 9: 521-657.

Kloot, P.M. (1983). Early records of alien plants naturalized in South Australia, Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens 6: 93-131.

Moore, C.W.E. (1956). Observtions on the autecology of Heliotropium europaeum L. in New South Wales, CSIRO Division of Plant Industry Technical Paper 7.

Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Asteranae
family Boraginaceae
genus Heliotropium
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <http://avh.chah.org.au>. Find Heliotropium europaeum in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Heliotropium europaeum in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Lowan Mallee present naturalised
Murray Mallee present naturalised
Wimmera present naturalised
Victorian Volcanic Plain present naturalised
Victorian Riverina present naturalised
Murray Scroll Belt present naturalised
Robinvale Plains present naturalised
Murray Fans present naturalised
Gippsland Plain present naturalised
Goldfields present naturalised
Central Victorian Uplands present naturalised
Northern Inland Slopes present naturalised
Highlands-Northern Fall present naturalised

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
Northern Territory
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory