Heliotropium eduardii Martelli
Heliotropium steudneri is an erect or spreading, perennial herb or subshrub that can grow 60 - 100cm tall. The stems are branched and more or less woody at the base[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local medicinal use.
No specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, but many members of this plant family (Boraginaceae) are known to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These alkaloids have a cumulative effect upon the body and, unless concentrations in a plant are high, occasional use is generally completely safe. They are derived from amino acids including ornithine. Many pyrrolizidine alkaloids have pronounced hepatic toxicity, but the lungs and other organs may be affected as well. Mutagenic and carcinogenic activities of pyrrolizidine alkaloids have also been reported[
East and southern Africa from Ethiopia, south to Namibia and S. Africa.
Open localities, grassland and dry bushland on dry, poor, often sandy soil at elevations from 100 - 1,350 metres[
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[
The leaf juice is applied to cuts to stop bleeding and to prevent infection[
]. The plants are dipped in boiling water and then squeezed over bruises[
]. Drops of the leaf juice are applied to the eyes of cattle to cure conjunctivitis[
The pyrrolizidine alkaloid lycopsamine has been isolated from the leaves. Since 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 of this plant[
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