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a genus of plants of the Boraginaceae family. They are shrubs, underbrush, and herbs with alternate leaves. The blossoms are small and gathered into scrolls; the corolla is white or violet, with a short tube and a pentapartate limb. The fruit breaks into four nutlike parts. There are approximately 220 species distributed in tropical and subtropical regions, more rarely in the south of the temperate zone. In the USSR there are 22 species, which grow in Middle Asia (chiefly), in the Caucusus, the southern European part of Russia, and in the Altai; they grow on dry slopes, often in alkaline soils and weedy places. Some species of Heliotropium (H. europaeum, H. lasiocarpum) contain a poisonous alkaloid, cynoglossin, that causes affection of the nervous system (paralysis) in animals. Well-known among cultivated Heliotropium are ornamental varieties with pleasant scents, descended from wild-growing underbrush in Peru—H. peruvianum and H. corymbosum. The flowers of Heliotropium contain a fragrant volatile oil.
T. V. EGOROVA