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Pineland Heliotrope Heliotropium polyphyllum

The Pineland Heliotrope is endemic to Florida.  It is not found in any of the other states in the U.S.  There are actually two forms of this plant, one with white flowers and one with yellow flowers.  Why they are not two distinct species, I don’t know.

The white-flowered form is usually found along the western part of the Peninsular.  It is a ground creeper that seldom grows to a height of 12 inches.  The yellow-flowered form is found in the eastern and southern parts of the Peninsula.  This plant is more upright and can grow to a height of 2-3 feet.

These plants grow in moist wet pinelands, coastal areas near mangrove swamps, wet prairies, and ruderial areas.  They bloom all year.  How- ever, they are quite sensitive to the cold and the flowers will turn black at the first sign of frost.  When the temperatures warm up, they will recover.

The small flowers, either yellow with a golden center or white with a yellow center, grow as a curved spike at the top of the stem.  The five-lobed flowers usually grow in two adjacent rows.  The flowers are small, about 1/4-inch wide.  The glossy narrow leaves grow alternately along the stem.  Their average size is about 3/4-inch long and 3/8-inch wide.

The images on this page were taken in Deep Creek in Charlotte County.

The range distribution maps for the Pineland Heliotrope are from the Plants Database of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).