Sunday 16 June 2019

Heliotropium pakistanicum: A new species of Heliotrope from Pakistan.

Heliotropes, Heliotropium, are herbaceous plants in the Borage Family, Boraginaceae, found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions around the world. The genus is extremely specious, with over 300 described species. The name Heliotrope means 'Sun turn', from the belief that these plants turned their flowers to follow the Sun, though they do not actually do this. Heliotropes are cultivated as ornamental garden plants, and sometimes to produce dyes from their purple flowers, but they are not considered edible and some species are toxic to livestock.

In a paper published in the journal Planta Daninha on 13 June 2019, Humaira Shaheen of COMSATS University Islamabad, Daniel Potter of the University of California, Davis, and Mirza Faisal Qaseem and Rahmatullah Qureshi of the Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, describe a new species of Heliotrope from the Thal Desert of Punjab Province, Pakistan.

The new species is named Heliotropium pakistanicum, in reference to the country where it was found. It is a succulent herbaceous plant reaching about 60 cm in height, with fleshy stems growing from a woody base. 6-15 small yellow and green flowers are produced in April. The species appears to be endemic to the Thal Desert (i.e. not be found anywhere else).

Heliotropium pakistanicum. Shaheen et al. (2019).

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