Heliotropium indicum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Heliotropium indicum L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 1: 130 (1753).

Vernacular names

  • Indian heliotrope (En).
  • Tournesol indien (Fr)
  • Indonesia: buntut tikus (Malay), bandotan, gajahan (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: rumput ekur kuching, rumput kala jenkeng, rumput oleh (Peninsular)
  • Philippines: trompa ng elephante, buntot-leon (Tagalog, Bikol), kambra-kambra (Bisaya)
  • Cambodia: promoi damrey, kantui damrey
  • Laos: nha nguong xang
  • Thailand: ku-no kaa-mo (peninsular), yaa nguang chaang (general), yaa nguang chaang noi (northern)
  • Vietnam: cây vòi voi.


Probably a native of tropical America, now widespread in all tropical regions of the world. H. indicum is a common weed throughout Malesia.


H. indicum has been used on warts and in poultices since antiquity, to treat inflammatory tumours. In Indonesia a decoction of the leaves is used against thrush. In folk medicine in Indo-China the whole plant, either in decoction or as a poultice, is applied to treat inflammation, swelling, sprain, contusion, pharyngitis, abscesses and rheumatism. A poultice of the leaves is used in the treatment of herpes and rheumatism. In the Philippines, the roots are considered a good emmenagogue. An infusion of the leaves is used to wash wounds and sores. In Thailand, a decoction of aerial parts is applied as an antipyretic and anti-inflammatory, and the roots are used for eye diseases. In West Africa, a poultice is applied in the treatment of eczema and impetigo. In South and Central America, the plant is used for similar purposes. In addition a decoction of the leaves is taken orally to cure dysentery and to treat haemorrhoids. The leaf juice is drunk to stop internal bleeding. An infusion is taken as a gargle to relieve sore throat.


  • An annual herb, 15-60(-100) cm tall, stem simple or with a few branches, hairy.
  • Leaves ovate, (1.5-)2-10(-12) cm × 1-8(-9) cm, base truncate but narrowly long-decurrent, apex acute, with tubercules of mineralized cells and bristly hairs, petiole 1-9 cm long.
  • Inflorescence consisting of 1 to several spike-like cyme(s), elongated, 5-20 cm long, ebracteate.
  • Calyx with patent, bristly, white hairs, corolla salver-shaped, tube 3-4.5 mm long, lobes rounded, about 1 mm long, pale-violet, blue or white, apex of carpels strongly bidentate, strongly divergent at anthesis.
  • Fruit 2-3 mm long, fruit halves 2-celled, cells 2-locular, outer partition with one seed, inner one larger, empty.

H. indicum is found in sunny places, on waste land, in periodically desiccating pools and ditches and other anthropogenic habitats, in general up to 800 m altitude.

Selected sources

97, 190, 201, 202, 221, 287, 531, 580, 614, 787, 921, 979, 1035, 1072, 1126, 1128, 1178, 1229, 1299, 1386.


Wongsatit Chuakul, Noppamas Soonthornchareonnon & Promjit Saralamp