Heliotrope is an old fashioned plant, one that almost had its time in the spotlight and began to disappear from everywhere but our grandparents gardens but this amazing Flower has been making a comeback and although still a little difficult to find, is well worth tracking down for the glorious gift of its perfume. Over the past few years it has become a definite favourite of mine!
Heliotropium arborescens or peruvianum are the two varieties and it is peruvianum above that I will be talking about today. It is originally from Peru, but it was introduced to Europe in 1735.
Heliotrope is a perennial and growing a heliotrope plant will be an additional pleasure for those who live in places with hot, dry summers. They are drought and heat tolerant and extremely pest resistant. Despite being a member of the Boraginaceae (Borage family), all parts of Heliotrope are poisonous! So it may not be your first choice is you have small children or pets!
Small, shrub-like plants, heliotropes grow from one to four feet high. Their leaves are long ovals of dark green. They are long bloomers that begin flowering in Spring, all through Summer and offer up their fragrant bounty through to the following Autumn. Heliotrope plants grow in one-sided clusters that follow the sun; hence the name from the Greek words Helios (sun) and Tropos (turn).
Many tellings of this myth actually refer to the Sunflower as we know it rather than the Heliotrope….but poetry describes the Flower of Clytie whose face turns with the Sun to be heavily perfumed and of a Violet hue…making it the Heliotrope in my opinion.
In the Greek myth the sun god Apollo is loved by Clytia, for whom he cared so little that he went courting the princess Leukothea. Clytia revealed the liason to the king, who, furious at the misconduct of his daughter, buried her alive. Apollo returned to the heavens without so much as a look for the unhappy Clytia, who, conscious of the mischief she had done, fell to the ground and lay there for nine days. She watched Apollo passing in his chariot, and prayed for a look of pity. Seeing her wasted with sorrow, the gods took mercy and changed her into the heliotrope. She still lies at length upon the earth and looks toward heaven with half averted eye, waiting for complete forgiveness and acceptance.
According to another myth, all of the flowers were once maidens and all of them embarrassed the sun god Helios. The water nymph Clytie fell so deeply in love with him that for nine days, and nine nights she sat on the river bank admiring his chariot. The gods took pity on poor Clytie and changed her into the fragrant heliotrope. That’s how the heliotrope became the symbol for eternal love.”
Heliotrope can be grown from seed but is easy to grow from cuttings also. The plant tends to grow tall and leggy and needs your help to become shrubby. When it has reached your desired height, pinch out the top and any other growth to make it branch. This in turn will make the initial flowering take a little longer but you will be rewarded with many blossoms instead of the one.
With the perfume that issues from Heliotrope…you will want as many as the plant is happy to produce.
The fragrance from Heliotrope is glorious! It has been described as being reminiscent of vanilla, whilst others have named it the cherry-pie plant. When my daughter buried her nose in it and inhaled for the first time…she looked up at me and said “Oh Mum!!! This flower smells like Purple Vanilla ice cream!”…..and that sums it up pretty well!
Heliotrope has also been called “turnsole,” after its tendency to turn its flowers and leaves toward the sun over the course of each day. And at night it readjusts itself to face eastward, to be ready for sunrise. That tendency is at the root of the name heliotrope, too. It means to move with the sun.
*THE SONG OF*
THE HELIOTROPE FAIRY
Heliotrope’s my name; and why
People call me “Cherry Pie”,
That I really do not know;
But perhaps they call me so,
‘Cause I give them such a treat,
Just like something nice to eat.
For my scent–O come and smell it!
How can words describe or tell it?
And my buds and flowers, see,
Soft and rich and velvety–
Deepest purple first, that fades
To the palest lilac shades.
Well-beloved, I know, am I–
Heliotrope, or Cherry Pie!
by CICELY MARY BARKER
Christians have compared themselves to heliotropes, following God as if he were their sun. Bloodstone, also known as heliotrope, is type of quartz with red spots caused by iron oxide. The red streaks were believed to have come from Jesus’ blood that fell on a piece of Jasper beneath the cross.
Pliny says that it is “most blatant effrontery” that heliotrope, when combined with a plant of the same name, can confer invisibility. Regardless….working with the Flower and Stone together produces quite powerful results!
I would recommend placing Bloodstone with Heliotrope in the Garden and see how you go working with them together.
Also known as: Cherry Pie, Turnsole, Hindicum
Deities: Helios, Sol, Ra, Apollo, ALL Sun Gods
Magical Properties: Exorcism, Prophetic Dreams, Healing, Wealth, Invisibility, Self Confidence, Divination
Heliotrope…..Fresh and Dried
* Use in exorcism incenses and mixtures
* Use in healing blends and sachets
* Put Heliotrope in your pocket, purse or wallet to attract wealth
* Placed under your pillow, Heliotrope induces prophetic dreams
* To become ‘invisible’ fill a small horn with Heliotrope and wear or carry it. Your movements and actions will not attract attention
* Circle Green candles and burn them completely down for money and wealth spells
* Use in any ritual working with or drawing down the Sun to strengthen solar aspects of the self
* Sacred to all Solar deities
* Circle a gold or yellow candle to draw prosperity
* Heliotrope’s high spiritual vibrations enhance clairvoyance
* It is said when Heliotrope is planted in the Garden it helps keep nosey neighbours distracted
WARNING….All parts of Heliotrope are toxic if ingested!!!