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Heliotropium aegyptiacum Lehm.

Protologue
Sem. hort. bot. hamburg.: 20 (1824).
Family
Boraginaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Heliotropium aegyptiacum is found in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and northern Kenya and also in Egypt and the Arabian peninsula.
Uses
The pulp of fresh roots of Heliotropium aegyptiacum is applied to snakebites and scorpion stings in Somalia. The ash of burned roots is applied to wounds or alternatively, a mixture of leaf pulp and myrrh (resin of Commiphora myrrha (Nees) Engl.) is used. In Ethiopia the leaves are applied to the skin as a treatment for dandruff.
Properties
No details have been published on the composition of Heliotropium aegyptiacum. In view of the uses that are similar to those of some better studied species of Heliotropium, it is probable that pyrrolizidine alkaloids are responsible for the pharmacological actions and for cases of poisoning in livestock in East Africa.
Botany
Annual or short-lived perennial, erect herb, up to 75 cm tall, branched from the base. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole up to 5 cm; blade broadly ovate to elliptical, 1–10 cm × 0.5–7 cm; base shortly cuneate; apex obtuse, mucronate; margin entire or undulate-crenate. Inflorescence a terminal, spike-like cyme. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, sessile; calyx 3–4 mm long, lobed almost to base, enlarging in fruit; corolla white, 4–6 mm long, tube constricted at throat, lobes ovate. Fruit splitting into 4 nutlets.
Ecology
Heliotropium aegyptiacum is found in Commiphora - Acacia open scrub vegetation with succulents and in Acacia - Hyphaene associations at 350–700 m altitude. In Egypt it is found on the banks of the Nile and in moist stony ground. In Eritrea it was found to be a preferred host of gregarizing adults and hoppers of the desert locust.
Genetic resources and breeding
In view of its fairly wide distribution and weedy nature, there seem to be no threats of genetic erosion for Heliotropium aegyptiacum.
Prospects
As the use of Heliotropium aegyptiacum in traditional medicine seems restricted, it is likely to remain of limited importance only.
Major references
• Giday, M., Asfaw, Z., Elmqvist, T. & Woldu, Z., 2003. An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by the Zay people in Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 85: 43–52.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
Other references
• Boulos, L., 2000. Flora of Egypt. Volume 2 (Geraniaceae-Boraginaceae). Al Hadara Publishing, Caďro, Egypt. 352 pp.
• 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.
• Singh, U.P., Singh, K.P., Tripathi, V.K. & Pandey, V.B., 1994. Antifungal activity of some naturally occurring plant alkaloids. International Journal of Tropical Plant Diseases 12(2): 209–212.
• Verdcourt, B., 1991. Boraginaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 125 pp.
• Woldewahid, G., 2003. Habitats and spatial pattern of solitarious desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria Forsk.) on the coastal plain of Sudan. PhD thesis, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands. 162 pp.
Author(s)
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Photo editor
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2006. Heliotropium aegyptiacum Lehm. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
flowering plant