An Illustrated Guide to ARIZONA WEEDS

The University of Arizona Press

ALKALI HELIOTROPE, Chinese pusley, quail plant


BORAGE FAMILY-Boraginaceae

ALKALI HELIOTROPE-Heliotropium curassavicum L. var. oculatum (Heller) Johnst.

DESCRIPTION-A low, bluish green, fleshy perennial, reproducing by seeds and by creeping rhizomes. The plant is hairless, but covered with a whitish bloom that rubs off easily. When picked, it soon turns dark purplish brown. The stems branch from the base, are erect at first but are soon prostrate, with the tips ascending, 1 to 3 feet long. The leaves are alternate, rounded at the tip, 1 to 2 1/2 inches long, the upper stalkless and the lower with short stalks.

The flowers are white with a yellow "eye" changing to purple, 1/8 to 1/4 inch long, crowded on l-sided, slender curling spikes which are mostly in pairs, 2 to 6 inches long. The globeshaped fruit separates into 4 seedlike nutlets when mature. The small brown nutlets, about 1/16 inch long, are beetleshaped, rounded on the back, with several raised longitudinal veins.

DISTRIBUTION-A native weed, alkali heliotrope is common in moist alkaline or saline soils, and along watercourses. Often a pest in alfalfa fields, on overflow bottom lands, irrigation ditches, canals, and roadsides, from whence it spreads along the edges of cultivated crops. Abundant in the valleys, along the banks and overflow lands of the Colorado, Little Colorado, Salt, and Gila rivers throughout Arizona; up to 6,000 feet (mostly lower) elevation; flowering throughout the year. Usually growing in dense colonies due to spreading from its extensive rhizomes.

Copyright (c) 1972 The Arizona Board of Regents

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