Texas Natives – October, 2007
Turnsole (Heliotropium indicum) is a hot-weather annual adapted to many soil types under moist conditions. Plants grow from 2 to 3 feet tall and bloom continuously from July through November. Pale-violet to white flowers bloom along flower stalks which curl on the ends, resembling a scorpion’s tail, hence the common name scorpion weed. An abundant seed producer, turnsole will usually reseed the following year. Flowers attract a bevy of butterflies, particularly Queen and Monarch butterflies. Males of the Queen butterfly species derive more than just a nectar meal from the flowers. They extract chemical substances to attract females as well as protect their offspring through a “nuptial gift!”
For more on this plant, and to see what’s happening at Texas Discovery Gardens this month, go to www.texasdiscoverygardens.org/texasnatives.htm.
About the author: Tina Dombrowski is the Director of Horticulture at Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, Dallas. She has a particular interest in Texas native plants, butterflies, pollinating insects and their interconnected histories.