Heliotropium curassavicum, commonly called salt heliotrope<ref>Template:PLANTS</ref> (among other names), a species of flowering plant in the borage family (Boraginaceae). It is native to much of the Americas, from Canada to Argentina, including the West Indies. It can be found as an introduced, and sometimes invasive, species in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe.<ref name=Al-Shehbaz>Template:Cite journal</ref> It thrives in salty soils, such as beach sand, alkali flats, and salt marshes.<ref name=Al-Shehbaz/> It is often found in disturbed coastal sites.<ref>Seaside heliotrope The Institute for Regional Conservation</ref>
This is a perennial herb which can take the form of a prostrate creeper along the ground to a somewhat erect shrub approaching Template:Convert in height. The stem and foliage are fleshy, with the leaves thick and oval or spade-shaped. The plentiful inflorescences are curled, coiling double rows of small bell-shaped flowers. Each flower is white with five rounded lobes and a purple or yellow throat. The fruit is a smooth nutlet.
Due to its wide geographical range that spans many nations and languages, Heliotropium curassavicum has been given an assortment of common names. In English, these include seaside heliotrope, salt heliotrope, monkey tail, quail plant and Chinese parsley. In Latin American Spanish, it is known as cola de mico, cola de gama or rabo alacrán. It is called kīpūkai in Hawaii.
There are five currently recognized varieties.<ref name=Al-Shehbaz/> These are:
- H. curassavicum var. argentinum - Native to the tropics of South America, including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>
- H. curassavicum var. curassavicum - Globally widespread, native from the eastern U.S. to Argentina, and naturalized on seashores elsewhere.<ref name=Al-Shehbaz/>
- H. curassavicum var. fruticulosum - Endemic to the San Juan and Mendoza provinces of Argentina.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>
- H. curassavicum var. obovatum - Widespread in western North America and Chihuahua, Mexico.<ref name=AZ>Template:Cite book</ref>
- H. curassavicum var. oculatum - Native from southwestern Utah to Baja California.<ref name=AZ/>
Variety curassavicum has the smallest flowers, only 2.5-3.5mm wide (Bahia Honda Key, Florida)
Variety obovatum has flowers 5-10mm wide, with yellow or slightly purple-tinged throats (Moapa Valley, Nevada)
Variety oculatum has flowers 3-5mm wide with purple throats (Marin County, California)
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