Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Heliotropium curassavicum
(salt heliotrope)

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Datasheet

Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 06 December 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Heliotropium curassavicum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • salt heliotrope
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Heliotropiumcurassavicum is an aggressive weed that rapidly colonizes new areas, in particular on disturbed saline soils and coastal areas in arid and semiarid habitats. It forms dense monospecific sta...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowering habit. Laie Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2007.
TitleHabit
CaptionHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowering habit. Laie Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowering habit. Laie Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2007.
HabitHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowering habit. Laie Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowering habit. Laie Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2007.
TitleHabit
CaptionHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowering habit. Laie Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowering habit. Laie Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2007.
HabitHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowering habit. Laie Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); single plant. Hookipa, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2001.
TitleHabit
CaptionHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); single plant. Hookipa, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2001.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); single plant. Hookipa, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2001.
HabitHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); single plant. Hookipa, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2001.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowers and developing seed capsules. Kanaha Beach, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2003.
TitleFlowers
CaptionHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowers and developing seed capsules. Kanaha Beach, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2003.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowers and developing seed capsules. Kanaha Beach, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2003.
FlowersHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); flowers and developing seed capsules. Kanaha Beach, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2003.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); invasive habit. Kealia Pond NWR, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2013.
TitleInvasive habit
CaptionHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); invasive habit. Kealia Pond NWR, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2013.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); invasive habit. Kealia Pond NWR, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2013.
Invasive habitHeliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope); invasive habit. Kealia Pond NWR, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2013.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Heliotropium curassavicum L.

Preferred Common Name

  • salt heliotrope

Other Scientific Names

  • Coldenia succulenta Peter
  • Heliotropium angustifolium Raf.
  • Heliotropium chenopodioides Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.
  • Heliotropium chilense Bertero
  • Heliotropium glaucophyllum Moench
  • Heliotropium glaucum Salisb.
  • Heliotropium lehmannianum Bruns
  • Heliotropium portulacoides DC. ex Bello

International Common Names

  • English: monkey tail; quail plant; seaside heliotrope; white-weed; wild heliotrope
  • Spanish: verruguera
  • French: héliotrope; héliotrope de Curaçao
  • Portuguese: tornassol-sem-pêlos; verrucária-sem-pêlos

Local Common Names

  • Bahamas: pondweed
  • Brazil: crista-de-galo
  • Cuba: alacrancillo de playa; vainilla
  • Dominican Republic: yerba de alacrán
  • Italy: eliotropio marino
  • Lesser Antilles: romarin blanc; small seaside lavender; verveine-bord-de-mer; wild lavender
  • Mexico: heliotropo; hierba de fuego; hierba del sapo
  • Puerto Rico: cotorrera de playa

Summary of Invasiveness

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Heliotropiumcurassavicum is an aggressive weed that rapidly colonizes new areas, in particular on disturbed saline soils and coastal areas in arid and semiarid habitats. It forms dense monospecific stands that displace native vegetation and alter successional pathways. A combination of traits, such as high seed germination and seedling establishment rates in open areas, along with its ability to shift between sexual reproduction to clonal growth (i.e., adventitious root buds) are responsible for the invasiveness and rapid spread of H. curassavicum. H. curassavicum has become one of the most common weeds in the Mediterranean Basin and the Nile Delta, where it is regarded as a serious ecological and agricultural problem, but it is also listed as invasive in countries across Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, Africa and in Anguilla in the Lesser Antilles.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Boraginales
  •                         Family: Boraginaceae
  •                             Genus: Heliotropium
  •                                 Species: Heliotropium curassavicum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Boraginaceae comprises 94 genera and 1793 species, distributed mostly in warm temperate regions across the Northern Hemisphere, but also across tropical and subtropical regions (Stevens, 2017). The genus Heliotropium includes approximately 165 species that mainly grow in hot, dry and open habitats of tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions (Hilger and Diane 2003; Muhaidat et al., 2011). Several Heliotropium species are popular garden plants and many are also weeds that may be hepatotoxic if eaten in large quantities due to abundant pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Traditionally the genus Heliotropium has been included within the subfamily Heliotropoideae, together with the closely related genus Tournefortia, but the taxonomy and the infrafamilial relationships of the Heliotropoideae still remain controversial (Diane et al., 2002; Luebert et al., 2011).

Description

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The following description is adapted from Miller (1988) and Flora of Panama (2018):

Herb with stem and branches decumbent, glabrous, succulent, sometimes glaucous on the younger parts. Leaves 15-40 × 4-8 mm, glabrous, oblanceolate or-linear-lanceolate, obtuse, nerves faint. Inflorescences and spikes, unilateral, mostly terminal, 2-5 cm long, the bracts absent. Flowers sessile and actinomorphic; calyx of 5 sepals, slightly connate basally, elongate-deltoid, 1.2-1.5 mm long; corolla salverform, white, the tube somewhat saccate, 1.2 mm long, each lobe 0.8 mm long; stamens 5 and sessile, the anthers 0.6-0.7 mm long; ovary 4-lobed, the disk obscure, the style absent, the stigma conical, annular-pubescent at the widened base. Fruit 4-lobed, separating into 4 nutlets at maturity, the nutlets glabrous, wedge-shaped, 1.6-1.7 mm long.

Plant Type

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Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Succulent
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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Heliotropium curassavicum is native to the Americas where it can be found from Canada to Argentina. It has been introduced into Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia and can be found extensively naturalized across the Mediterranean Basin (Hegazy et al., 2008; Maiz-Tome, 2016; DAISIE, 2018; GRIIS, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

BotswanaPresentIntroducedPROTA (2018)
Cabo VerdePresentMartins (1995)
EgyptPresentIntroducedInvasiveHegazy AK et al. (2008)
MadagascarPresentIntroducedPROTA (2018)
MauritiusPresentIntroduced2005Pynee K and Lorence DH (2014)
MoroccoPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
MozambiquePresentIntroducedPROTA (2018)
NamibiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveBethune et al. (2004)
South AfricaPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
TunisiaPresentIntroduced1774Groves (1991)Common around oases

Asia

IndiaPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
-KeralaPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2019)
-RajasthanPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2019)
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2019)
IranPresentIntroducedInvasiveDinarvand and Howeizeh (2002)Listed as a weed
IsraelPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
JapanPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
PakistanPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveThomas et al. (2016)
TurkeyPresentIntroducedInvasiveDAISIE (2018)

Europe

DenmarkPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
FrancePresentIntroducedInvasiveDAISIE (2018)
GreecePresentIntroducedInvasiveDAISIE (2018)
ItalyPresentIntroducedInvasiveDAISIE (2018)Also invasive in Sardinia and Sicily
PortugalPresentIntroducedInvasiveDAISIE (2018)
-AzoresPresentIntroducedInvasiveDAISIE (2018)
RomaniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE (2018)
SpainPresentIntroducedInvasiveDAISIE (2018)
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveDAISIE (2018)
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveVerloove F (2013); DAISIE (2018)Nauturalized. Present in Fuerteventura, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

North America

AnguillaPresentBroome et al. (2007); Connor RA (2008)Reported as both introduced/invasive and native
Antigua and BarbudaPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
ArubaPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
BahamasPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
BarbadosPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)Listed as a weed
Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba
-BonairePresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
British Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
CanadaPresentNativeCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution
-AlbertaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-ManitobaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-SaskatchewanPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
Cayman IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Costa RicaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
CubaPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
CuraçaoPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
GrenadaPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
GuadeloupePresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)Listed as a weed
GuatemalaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
HaitiPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
HondurasPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
Netherlands AntillesPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
NicaraguaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
PanamaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
Puerto RicoPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
Saint LuciaPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)Very common
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)
Sint MaartenPresentNativeBroome et al. (2007)Listed as a weed
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
United StatesPresentNativeCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution
-AlabamaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-ArizonaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-ArkansasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-CaliforniaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-ColoradoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-ConnecticutPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-DelawarePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-FloridaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-GeorgiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-HawaiiPresentUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-IdahoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-IllinoisPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-KansasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-LouisianaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-MarylandPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-MississippiPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-MissouriPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-MontanaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-NebraskaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-NevadaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-New MexicoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-New YorkPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-North CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-North DakotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-OklahomaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-OregonPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-PennsylvaniaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-South CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-South DakotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-TexasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-UtahPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-VirginiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-WashingtonPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2018)

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
BoliviaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
BrazilPresentNativeFlora do Brasil (2016)
-ParaibaPresentNativeFlora do Brasil (2016)
-PernambucoPresentNativeFlora do Brasil (2016)
-PiauiPresentNativeFlora do Brasil (2016)
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeFlora do Brasil (2016)
-Sao PauloPresentNativeFlora do Brasil (2016)
ChilePresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
EcuadorPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
GuyanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
ParaguayPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
PeruPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
SurinamePresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
UruguayPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
VenezuelaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)

History of Introduction and Spread

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In the Mediterranean, H. curassavicum was first recorded in Tunisia in 1774 and it has continued to spread mostly along coastal areas and on saline soils. Today it can be found naturalized across nearly the entire Mediterranean Basin and is also common along the Nile Delta (Groves, 1991; Hegazy et al., 2008; Hegazy and Lovett-Doust, 2016; DAISIE, 2018).

The first report of H. curassavicum in the Canary Islands was in Fuerteventura. Since 2011 it has also been recorded repeatedly in Gran Canaria, where it is continues to spread (Verloove, 2013).

On the Mascarene Islands, H. curassavicum was collected in 2005 in Mauritius. According to the authors, this species was likely to have been introduced into Mauritius unintentionally via equipment or freight (Pynee and Lorence, 2014).

Habitat

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Heliotropium curassavicum can be found growing on saline or alkaline flats, plains and meadows, seasonal swamps, estuaries, coastal thickets, mangrove forests, beaches, irrigated areas, riverbanks, near lakes and ponds, wetlands, desert areas and oases and along seashores and dunes at elevations from sea level to 1500 m. It is also a common weed of roadsides, ruderal areas, pastures, crops and fallows and abandoned farms (Groves, 1991; Hegazy et al., 2008Hegazy and Lovett-Doust, 2016; Maiz-Tome, 2016; Flora of Panama, 2018; ISSG, 2018; India Biodiversity Portal, 2019; Useful Tropical Plants, 2019).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Deserts Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Deserts Present, no further details Natural
Deserts Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Arid regions Present, no further details Natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Natural
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Salt marshes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Salt marshes Present, no further details Natural
Salt marshes Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Freshwater
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Natural
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Natural
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Ponds Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Ponds Present, no further details Natural
Ponds Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Brackish
Estuaries Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Estuaries Present, no further details Natural
Estuaries Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Marine
Inland saline areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Inland saline areas Present, no further details Natural
Inland saline areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number of H. curassavicum is 2n=26, 28 (Luque, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2018).

Reproductive biology

Heliotropium curassavicum has small bisexual flowers arranged in inflorescences. In the USA, Hesperopsis gracielae (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae), have been reported visiting inflorescences of H.curassavicum (Wiesenborn, 2010).

Heliotropium curassavicum is able to shift between sexual reproduction and vegetative reproduction in response to temperature, soil moisture, level of disturbance and openness of the disturbed habitat (Hegazy, 1994). Once this species reaches a new area, it starts colonizing the new habitat through germination of seeds. Once the habitat is fully colonized, seed germination is often inhibited within the closed areas and the stand is largely maintained by vegetative reproduction (shoots and buds from established individuals). Seed germination and seedling establishment is largely restricted to open sites (<10% of cover) while vegetative reproduction dominates in shaded sites (90% or more cover) (Hegazy, 1994; Hegazy et al., 2008; Hegazy and Lovett-Doust, 2016; ISSG, 2018).

Physiology and phenology

In North and Central America, H. curassavicum produces flowers and fruits throughout the year. In India, it has been recorded flowering and fruiting from January to April (India Biodiversity Portal, 2019). In Australia, it flowers from November to April (South Australian Seed Conservation Centre, 2018). In Egypt, flowering activity has been recorded from February to October (Hegazy et al., 1994).

Longevity

Heliotropium curassavicum is a perennial herb, but in colder climates it can grow as an annual (USDA-NRCS, 2018).

Environmental requirements

Heliotropium curassavicum is a common weed of hot and open sites in dry, arid and semiarid habitats. It is adapted to grow on sandy soils with a pH in the range of 6.6 to 8.5. This species shows a high tolerance to drought and anthropogenic disturbance (manmade or disturbed habitats) as well as tolerating saline soils and waterlogged conditions (Maiz-Tome, 2016; ISSG, 2018).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
55 30

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 34

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall200>2000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Heliotropium curassavicum spreads by seeds and vegetatively from adventitious root buds. The seeds can be dispersed by waterways, vehicles, animals and in contaminated soil and agricultural products. Root fragments can be broken off and spread during cultivation or soil preparation for farming (Hegazy, 1994; Hegazy et al., 1994; Hegazy et al., 2008; Hegazy and Lovett-Doust, 2016; ISSG, 2018; Queensland Government, 2018).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
DisturbanceCommon weed of ruderal areas, roadsides, open sites, etc. Yes Yes ISSG, 2018
Medicinal useUsed as medicinal herb Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2018
Ornamental purposesSometimes planted as an ornamental Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2018

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds, root fragments Yes Yes Hegazy et al., 1994
Soil, sand and gravelSeeds, root fragments Yes Yes Hegazy et al., 1994
Land vehiclesSeeds, root fragments Yes Yes Hegazy et al., 1994
WindSeeds, root fragments Yes Yes Hegazy et al., 1994

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Environmental Impact

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Heliotropium curassavicum is an aggressive weed that has become dominant mostly in disturbed areas along the Mediterranean Basin and the Nile Delta, where it is regarded as a serious ecological and agricultural problem. It has been recorded invading coastal thickets, wetlands, mangrove forests and coastal deserts and oases. It forms dense monospecific stands that displace native vegetation and alter successional processes (Hegazy et al., 2008; Hegazy and Lovett-Doust, 2016; DAISIE, 2018; GRIIS. 2018; ISSG, 2018). H. curassavicum is one of the most common weeds of newly reclaimed agricultural lands and disturbed areas along the Nile Delta. Across these habitats, H. curassavicum has been reported as displacing native species such as Aeluropus lagopoides, Polygonum equisetiforme, Sporobolus spicatus, Cynodon dactylon, Lotus halophilus, Chenopodium ambrosioides [Dysphania ambrosioides] and Bassia muricata (Hegazy, 1994; Hegazy et al., 2008; Hegazy and Lovett-Doust, 2016).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Gregarious
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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H. curassavicum is sometimes planted as an ornamental, but its principal use is as a medicinal herb. The dried roots are ground into a powder and applied to sores and wounds. A decoction of the plant is taken as a remedy for leucorrhoea, and as a substitute for Heliotropium indicum, which is used to treat warts, inflammation, and tumours (PROTA, 2018; Useful Tropical Plants, 2019). The ashes of the plant are used as a salt substitute (USDA-ARS, 2018; Useful Tropical Plants, 2019).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Amenity

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • garden plant

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Heliotropium curassavicum is similar to other weedy Heliotropium species such as H. europaeum, H. indicum, and H. amplexicaule. These species can be distinguished by the following traits (Queensland Government, 2018):

  • Heliotropium curassavicum is a creeping (prostrate) hairless (glabrous) plant with much-branched stems and basal leaves that are oblong or elongated in shape. Its very small (1.5-2 mm long), whitish, cultured, tubular flowers have yellowish or reddish throats.
  • Heliotropium amplexicaule is a creeping (prostrate or decumbent) stiffly hairy (pubescent) plant with much-branched stems and relatively few basal leaves that are elongated in shape. Its relatively small (4-5 mm long) blue, pink or purplish tubular flowers have yellowish throats.
  • Heliotropium europaeum is an upright (erect) or semi-upright (decumbent or ascending) plant with much-branched stems and relatively few basal leaves that are oval in shape (elliptic). Its relatively small (2-3 mm long) whitish colored tubular flowers have yellowish throats.
  • Heliotropium indicum is an upright (erect) plant with mostly unbranched stems and basal leaves that are egg-shaped in outline (ovate). Its relatively small (4-5 mm long) purplish-colored, tubular flowers fade to dull white and have yellowish throats.

Heliotropium curassavicum is also relatively similar to some verbenas (Verbena spp.) which have similar tubular flowers. However, Verbena species do not have coiled flower clusters and their leaves usually have toothed or highly divided margins (Queensland Government, 2018).

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez, P., Strong, M. T., 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies, Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Bethune, S., Griffin, M., Joubert, D. F., 2004. National Review of Invasive Alien Species, Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia: Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Broome, R., Sabir, K., Carrington, S., 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. In: Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database , Barbados: University of the West Indies.http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Connor RA, 2008. Anguilla Invasive Species Strategy. Anguilla: Department of Environment.

DAISIE, 2018. Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. In: Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe . http://www.europe-aliens.org/

Diane, N., Förther, H., Hilger, H. H., 2002. A systematic analysis of Heliotropium, Tournefortia, and allied taxa of the Heliotropiaceae (Boraginales) based on ITS1 sequences and morphological data. American Journal of Botany, 89(2), 287-295. doi: 10.3732/ajb.89.2.287

Dinarvand, M., Howeizeh, H., 2002. A new weed for the weed flora of Iran. Iranian Journal of Botany, 9(2), 229-231.

Flora do Brasil, 2016. Brazilian flora 2020. In: Brazilian flora 2020 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden.http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br

Flora of Panama, 2018. Flora of Panama (WFO). In: Flora of Panama (WFO) St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, MA, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria.http://www.tropicos.org/Project/FOPWFO

GRIIS, 2018. Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species. Auckland, New Zealand: IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group.http://www.griis.org/

Groves, R. H., 1991. The biogeography of mediterranean plant invasions. In: Biogeography of mediterranean invasions, [ed. by Groves, R. H., Castri, F. di]. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 427-438.

Hegazy AK, Mussa SA, Farrag HF, 2008. Invasive plant communities in the Nile Delta Coast. Global Journal of Environmental Research, 2(1), 53-61.

Hegazy, A. K., 1994. Trade-off between sexual and vegetative reproduction of the weedy Heliotropium curassavicum. Journal of Arid Environments, 27(3), 209-220. doi: 10.1006/jare.1994.1059

Hegazy, A. K., Soliman, M. I., Mashaly, I. A., 1994. Perspectives on the biology of Heliotropium curassavicum in the Deltaic Mediterranean coast of Egypt. Arab Gulf Journal of Scientific Research, 12(3), 525-545.

Hegazy, A., Lovett-Doust, J., 2016. Plant ecology in the Middle East, [ed. by Hegazy, A., Lovett-Doust, J.]. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.368 pp.

Hilger HH, Diane N, 2003. A systematic analysis of Heliotropiaceae (Boraginales) based on trnL and ITS1 sequence data. Botanische Jahrbücher, 125, 19–51.

India Biodiversity Portal, 2019. Online Portal of India Biodiversity. In: Online Portal of India Biodiversity . http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

ISSG, 2018. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). In: Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) : Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.http://www.issg.org/database/welcome/

Luebert, F., Brokamp, G., Wen, J., Weigend, M., Hilger, H. H., 2011. Phylogenetic relationships and morphological diversity in Neotropical Heliotropium (Heliotropiaceae). Taxon, 60(3), 663-680.

Luque, T., 1996. Karyological studies on Spanish Boraginaceae. VII. Heliotropium L. Willdenowia, 25(2), 659-668.

Maiz-Tome L, 2016. Heliotropium curassavicum. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016 . https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/64314219/67729676 doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T64314219A67729676.en

Martins, E. S., 1995. Cape Verde Flora. Vascular plants. 74. Boraginaceae. (Flora de Cabo Verde. Plantas Vasculares. 74. Boraginaceae). In: Flora de Cabo Verde , (No. 74) . Lisboa, Portugal: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical.22 pp.

Miller, J. S., 1988. A revised treatment of Boraginaceae for Panama. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 75(2), 456-521. doi: 10.2307/2399433

Muhaidat R, Sage TI, Frohlich MW, Dengler NG, Sage RF, 2011. Characterization of C3–C4 intermediate species in the genus Heliotropium L. (Boraginaceae): anatomy, ultrastructure and enzyme activity. Plant, Cell & Environment, 34(10), 1723-1736.

PROTA, 2018. PROTA4U web database. In: PROTA4U web database Wageningen and Nairobi, Netherlands\Kenya: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.https://www.prota4u.org/database/

Pynee K, Lorence DH, 2014. First record and distribution of Heliotropium curassavicum L.(Boraginaceae) in the Mascarene Islands. Phelsuma, 22, 6-8.

Queensland Government, 2018. Weeds of Australia, Biosecurity Queensland Edition. In: Weeds of Australia, Biosecurity Queensland Edition , Australia: Queensland Government.http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/search.html

South Australian Seed Conservation Centre, 2018. Seeds of South Australia. Adelaide, Australia: Botanic Gardens of Adelaide.http://saseedbank.com.au/

Stevens, P. F., 2017. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14. In: Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14 . St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/

Thomas, J., El-Sheikh, M. A., Alfarhan, A. H., Alatar, A. A., Sivadasan, M., Mohammed Basahi, Al-Obaid, S., Rajakrishnan, R., 2016. Impact of alien invasive species on habitats and species richness in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Arid Environments, 127, 53-65. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140196315300732 doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2015.10.009

USDA-ARS, 2018. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2018. The PLANTS Database. In: The PLANTS Database Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team.https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov

Useful Tropical Plants, 2019. Useful tropical plants database. In: Useful tropical plants database : K Fern.http://tropical.theferns.info/

Verloove F, 2013. New xenophytes from Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain), with emphasis on naturalized and (potentially) invasive species. Collectanea Botanica, 32, 59-82.

Wiesenborn WD, 2010. Attraction of Hesperopsis gracielae (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) skippers to Heliotropium curassavicum inflorescence models. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 83(4), 288-296.

Distribution References

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong M T, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. 1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Bethune S, Griffin M, Joubert D F, 2004. National Review of Invasive Alien Species, Namibia. Windhoek, Namibia: Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. In: Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Connor RA, 2008. Anguilla Invasive Species Strategy., Anguilla: Department of Environment.

DAISIE, 2018. Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. In: Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. http://www.europe-aliens.org/

Dinarvand M, Howeizeh H, 2002. A new weed for the weed flora of Iran. Iranian Journal of Botany. 9 (2), 229-231.

Flora do Brasil, 2016. Brazilian flora 2020. In: Brazilian flora 2020. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br

GRIIS, 2018. Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species. Auckland, New Zealand: IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group. http://www.griis.org/

Groves R H, 1991. The biogeography of mediterranean plant invasions. In: Biogeography of mediterranean invasions. [ed. by Groves R H, Castri F di]. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 427-438.

Hegazy AK, Mussa SA, Farrag HF, 2008. Invasive plant communities in the Nile Delta Coast. Global Journal of Environmental Research. 2 (1), 53-61.

India Biodiversity Portal, 2019. Online Portal of India Biodiversity. In: Online Portal of India Biodiversity. http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

Martins E S, 1995. Cape Verde Flora. Vascular plants. 74. Boraginaceae. (Flora de Cabo Verde. Plantas Vasculares. 74. Boraginaceae.). In: Flora de Cabo Verde, Lisboa, Portugal: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical. 22 pp.

PROTA, 2018. PROTA4U web database. In: PROTA4U web database. Wageningen and Nairobi, Netherlands\Kenya: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. https://www.prota4u.org/database/

Pynee K, Lorence DH, 2014. First record and distribution of Heliotropium curassavicum L.(Boraginaceae) in the Mascarene Islands. Phelsuma. 6-8.

Thomas J, El-Sheikh M A, Alfarhan A H, Alatar A A, Sivadasan M, Mohammed Basahi, Al-Obaid S, Rajakrishnan R, 2016. Impact of alien invasive species on habitats and species richness in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Arid Environments. 53-65. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140196315300732 DOI:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2015.10.009

USDA-ARS, 2018. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2018. The PLANTS Database. In: The PLANTS Database. Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team. https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov

Verloove F, 2013. New xenophytes from Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain), with emphasis on naturalized and (potentially) invasive species. Collectanea Botanica. 59-82.

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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10/06/2018 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH 

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