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Heliotropium steudneri Vatke

Protologue
Öst. Bot. Zeitschr. 25: 167 (1875).
Family
Boraginaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Heliotropium steudneri is native of East and southern Africa, from Ethiopia south to Namibia and South Africa.
Uses
In Tanzania the leaf juice is applied to cuts to stop bleeding and to prevent infection. In Namibia plants are dipped in boiling water and then squeezed over bruises. The Maasai people in Kenya and Tanzania apply drops of leaf juice to the eyes of their cattle to cure conjunctivitis.
Properties
The pyrrolizidine alkaloid lycopsamine has been isolated from the leaves of Heliotropium steudneri. As its uses are similar to those of some better studied species of the genus such as Heliotropium indicum L. and Heliotropium ovalifolium Forssk., pyrrolizidine alkaloids are probably responsible for the alleged medicinal properties. Several butterfly species depend on plants to provide them with lycopsamine as a precursor of the pheromone danaidone. The flowers have a bad smell which is believed to help pollination by flies.
Botany
Perennial, erect or spreading herb or subshrub up to 1 m tall, with woody rootstock; stem branched, densely and persistently hairy. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole absent or short, up to 1 cm long; blade narrowly elliptical to elliptical-lanceolate or oblong, 1–9 (–13) cm × 0.5–2.5(–3.2) cm; base cuneate, apex acute, margin crenulate, frequently bullate above with venation impressed. Inflorescence a terminal cyme, mostly simple, sometimes 2– 3-branched, short and scorpioid at first, extending up to 37 cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, sessile; calyx 2.5–5.5 mm long, lobed almost to base, densely pubescent; corolla white or creamy-yellow, 4–6 mm long, tube glabrous and narrow at base, funnel-shaped and pubescent above, lobes oblong to obovate-oblong, up to 3 mm × 2 mm. Fruit depressed ovoid, splitting into 2 nutlets.
Ecology
Heliotropium steudneri is found in open localities, grassland and dry bushland on dry, poor, often sandy soil at 100–1350 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Heliotropium steudneri is fairly widespread and common and therefore not in danger of genetic erosion.
Prospects
The external uses of Heliotropium steudneri in traditional medicine deserve attention by researchers.
Major references
• Baerts, M. & Lehmann, J., 2002. Heliotropium steudneri. [Internet]. Prelude Medicinal Plants Database. Metafro-Infosys, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium http://www.metafro.be/ prelude/view_plant?pi=06760 Accessed April 2004.
• Martins, E.S. & Brummitt, R.K., 1990. Boraginaceae. In: Launert, E. & Pope, G.V. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 7, part 4. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 59–110.
• Meinwald, J., 2000. Sex, drugs and violence in the world of insects. [Internet] Science on the Frontiers. Research Corporation, Tucson, United States. http://rescorp.org/ Uploads/science.frontier.pdf. Accessed April 2004.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Verdcourt, B., 1991. Boraginaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 125 pp.
Other references
• Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
• Imamura, K., 2001. Water in the desert: rituals and vital power among the Central Kalahari hunter-gatherers. African Study Monographs, Supplement 27: 125–163.
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 steudneri Vatke. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
flowering plant


leafy stem


inflorescence