Common Heliotrope

(Heliotropium europaeum)

Common heliotrope, photo: Luigi Rignanese 2005

Status of common heliotrope in Tasmania

  • Common heliotrope is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of common heliotrope are prohibited in Tasmania.
  • The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with common heliotrope are laid out in the Common Heliotrope Statutory Weed Management Plan.

What does common heliotrope look like?

  • Common heliotrope is an annual herb (living for a single year) growing to 50 cm high. The stems are grey-green, branched and rough to the touch. The leaves are also grey-green, oval shaped and alternate up the stem. The leaves are covered with small hairs, particularly the underside, and give off an offensive smell when crushed. The tubular flowers are white with yellow throats and arranged in two rows along the upper side of a curved spike 5 to 7 cm long and borne singly or in pairs on the ends of branches. The fruit is a group of 4 brown nutlets, each containing one seed. The root is a slender much-branched taproot that may reach 1 m in length.
  • Seeds germinate in late spring and summer when moisture is available. Flowering and seed production occurs throughout summer and several generations occur in one season. The plants are killed off by frosts in April or May.
  • Spread is by seed. The hairy flower spike and rough surface of the nutlets allow them to adhere to wool and fur, and seed is spread mainly by stock. Seed is also spread as a contaminant of fodder. Local spread of seed occurs in water movement during floods.

The tubular, white flowers of common heliotrope, photo: Luigi Rignanese 2005 

Image top: Common heliotrope.
Image above: The tubular, white flowers of common heliotrope. (All photos © Luigi Rignanese 2005.)

Impacts of common heliotrope

  • Common heliotrope is a serious pasture weed due to its toxicity to sheep, cattle and horses.

Where does common heliotrope occur?

  • Common heliotrope is a native of central Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. Common heliotrope has naturalized in all mainland States and Territories except the Northern Territory.
  • Common heliotrope has not naturalised in Tasmania.

What you need to do

  • If you locate common heliotrope anywhere in Tasmania, or if you find a plant that you think could be common heliotrope, immediately contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 to report this weed.

See also
Common Heliotrope Statutory Weed Management Plan
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

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