Heliotropium foertherianum

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Heliotropium foertherianum
Starr 010520-0073 Tournefortia argentea.jpg
In the Hawaiian Islands
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Boraginales
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Heliotropium
H. foertherianum
Binomial name
Heliotropium foertherianum

Tournefortia argentea L.f.
Argusia argentea (L.f.) Heine
Messerschmidia argentea (L.f.) I.M.Johnst.
Tournefortia arborea Blanco

Heliotropium foertherianum is a species of flowering plant in the borage family, Boraginaceae. It is native to tropical Asia including southern China, Madagascar, northern Australia, and most of the atolls and high islands of Micronesia and Polynesia. Common names include velvetleaf soldierbush,[2] tree heliotrope, veloutier, and octopus bush. It is a shrub or small tree typical of littoral zones reaching a height of 3.6 m (12 ft), with a spread of about 5 m (16 ft).[citation needed]


Originally published as Tournefortia argentea, it was transferred to Argusia argentea, and remained under that name until recently. It was subsequently restored to Tournefortia before being transferred into Heliotropium under a new name in 2003.[3][4]


Heliotropium Foertherianum 01.JPG

Historically in the Maldives the leaves were often used as famine food.[5]


The wood of H. foertherianum is commonly used to make handicrafts, tools, and, in Polynesia, frames for swim goggles. Due to its availability, H. foertherianum is used as firewood, and has become rare in some areas as a result.[6]


Octopus bush is used in many Pacific islands as a traditional medicine to treat ciguatera fish poisoning, which is caused by powerful ciguatoxins produced by microscopic Gambierdiscus algae. Scientists from the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and the Louis Malarde Institute in French Polynesia and Pasteur Institute in New Caledonia are researching the plant chemistry and believe that senescent leaves contain rosmarinic acid and derivatives, which are known for its antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.[7] The researchers think that rosmarinic acid removes the ciguatoxins from their sites of action, as well as being an anti-inflammatory agent.


  1. ^ World Conservation Monitoring Centre (2018). "Heliotropium foertherianum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T34280A128343617. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Tournefortia argentea". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  3. ^ Hilger, Hartmut H. (1 December 2003). "IngentaConnect A systematic analysis of Heliotropiaceae (Boraginales) based on t". Botanische Jahrbücher. 125: 19–51. doi:10.1127/0006-8152/2003/0125-0019.
  4. ^ "Heliotropium foertherianum Diane & Hilger". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government.
  5. ^ Eating on the Islands - As times have changed, so has the Maldives' unique cuisine and culture
  6. ^ Elevitch, Craig R.; Harley I. Manner (April 2006). "Tournefortia argentea (tree heliotrope)" (PDF). The Traditional Tree Initiative. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Rossi F, Jullian V, Pawlowiez R, Kumar-Roiné S, Haddad M, Darius HT, Gaertner-Mazouni N, Chinain M, and Laurent D (August 2012). "Protective effect of Heliotropium foertherianum (Boraginaceae) folk remedy and its active compound, rosmarinic acid, against a Pacific ciguatoxin". Journal of Ethnopharmacology (published 30 August 2012). 143 (1): 33–40. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.05.045. PMID 22706150.

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