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Heliotropium arborescens ‘Fragrant Delight’

Purple heliotrope

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderLamialesAromatic herbs and shrubs, including lavender, lilac, olive, jasmine, ash, teak, snapdragon, sesame, psyllium, garden sage, mint, basil, and rosemary
FamilyBoraginaceaeBorages or forget-me-nots
GenusHeliotropiumFrom the Greek helios, “sun,” and trope, “turning,” thus meaning “sun-turning,” either a reference to the summer solstice when the first described species bloomed, or to the turning of flowers toward the sun, a characteristic of many species known as heliotropism
SpeciesarborescensWoody or tree-like, becoming like a tree
Cultivar‘Fragrant Delight’

About plant names...

The wild version of this heliotrope comes from the Peruvian Andes. During the Victorian era in England, it became popular, and many cultivars have been developed. Thomas Jefferson was among those who planted it, but the wild plant is not found in North America.

Identification: Plants are 12-18" (30-45 cm) in height (rarely up to 6' (1.8 m), with deep purple flowers that continue through much of the growing season. Not everybody agrees on the flowers' scent, variously compared to vanilla, cherry pie, or even grape popsicles, but everybody agrees that they smell great. Leaves are veined and rough, 2-3" (5-7.6 cm) long, and sharp-tipped.

Online References:


Desert-tropicals.com (Heliotropium arborescens)

The National Gardening Association

California Lutheran University


Heliotropium arborescens ‘Fragrant Delight’ description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Heliotropium arborescens (purple heliotrope)

8/1/2009 · Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, Maine
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Heliotropium arborescens (purple heliotrope)

8/1/2009 · Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, Maine
≈ 5 × 4½" (13 × 11 cm)

Range: Zones 9a-11:

About this map...