Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Seaside Heliotrope - Heliotropium curassavicum   L.
Members of Heliotropium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Lamiales » Family Heliotropiaceae
AuthorL.
DistributionKnown only from two coastal sites -- Ocracoke Island (Hyde County) and a coastal site in Carteret County.

This is mainly a species of the Old World, ranging into the Western states. The range in the East is only from DE south to FL and to TX and into the Tropics. Some references even question whether it is native in the eastern states.
AbundanceOf historical occurrence in NC. The Hyde County specimen is from 1931, and the Carteret record/report is presumably from decades ago. It is considered as Significantly Rare, with a State Rank of SH.
HabitatThis is a maritime species, of tidal shores, tidal flats, and edges of brackish marshes.
See also Habitat Account for General Tidewater Shorelines and Flats
PhenologyBlooms from June to September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a smooth, succulent herb, prostrate to ascending and reaching about 1' tall; where it occurs, it usually is found in dense stands. It has a few ascending stem leaves, elliptical and about 2" long. There are several curled flower stalks in helicoid cymes, at the ends of branches. The flowers are densely packed along the stalks, white or slightly tinged with light blue, and a spread of about 1/4" across, with 5 spreading petals. If seen in bloom, it would be very hard to overlook, as the curved white flower clusters are quite showy. The other three Heliotropium species in NC grow in waste places, or at least away from coastal shores and marshes. It is a shame that such a distinctive species is now of historical occurrence in the state, but it still should be searched for, as suitable habitat is still common.
Taxonomic CommentsThe taxon in NC is the nominate one -- H. curassavicum var. curassavicum.

Other Common Name(s)Salt Heliotrope
State RankSH
Global RankG5
State Status[SR-P]
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