Heliotropium micranthum (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Arnebia baldshuanica
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Heliotropium micranthum (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Alyssum desertorum
Heliotropium micranthum
Heliotropium micranthum

Heliotropium micranthum (Pall.) Bge

Local name:

  • Russian: Гелиотроп мелкоцветный, Гелиотроп аргузиевый - geliotrop melkocvetnyj, geliotrop arguzievyj
  • Uzbek: Choychup, Gichmola
  • Turkmen: Gyunoik

Chromosome number: n = 7 (Fedorov 1969).

Description and morphology: Perennial small shrub (height 30–60 cm) with numerous suckers and roots, growing horizontally in soil to depth 50 cm. Stem: woody at base, cylindrical, strongly branched, covered with dense rigid hairs. Leaves: spirally arranged, oblonglanceolate or oblong-elliptic (1–3 cm long) on long pedicels with cordate base. Flowers: bisexual; tetra or pentamerous, assembled in unilateral cymes or spiciform axillary clusters. Sepals free, highly pubescent, less often fused, dismembered on oblong pointed lobes. Corolla white or yellow, bases of petals accreted in column with well-expressed nectarium, 5 stamens, fused with free filaments. Ovary, 2–4 (5) locular, with false partition between them, often encircled by a basal disc. Stigmas short with one small terminal conic style.

Reproduction: Mainly vegetative, also sexual. Entomophilous. Fruit: dry, fractional, breaking up into 2 or 4 monospermous linear-oblong long woolly nutlets (5 mm long). Seeds: straight or curved with large, erect embryo and fine endosperm. Seed coat thin, dense. Dormancy A1–B1 type. Dark-sensitive. Cold stratification for 3 months, subsequent germination at 10–35 °C; seed washing, scarification and/or processing with chemical stimulators influence germination. Viability of seed 6–7 months.

Pastoral importance: Medium contribution to biomass. Poor to medium fodder value. Valuable plant because of its ability to develop underground runners for sand-fixation in case of deflation or in areas where the Carex cover has been destroyed.

Habitat: Psammo-xerophyte. Does not tolerate salinity. Common on loose sand near wells, in degraded areas, on calcareous hills together with Tournefortia sogdiana. Contributes to loose sand-fixation because of its numerous suckers.

Distribution: Middle Asia, western Kyzylkum (Talimardjan), south-western part of Russia.