Toxic Parts:
pyrrolizidine alkaloids
Flower Color:
  • flower color
meadows, haybales, gardens

Time of Greatest Risk


Geographical Distribution

Heliotrope distribution - United States

Related Species


Heliotropium europaeum

Common Heliotrope, Potato Weed, Barooga Weed, Wanderie Curse
5/ 10
Heliotrope (Heliotropium europaeum) is an upright, flowering, short-lived annual plant that is native to Europe, Western Asia and northern Africa. It is considered to be an invasive, noxious weed in many areas of the world where it has been introduced, such as western Australia and Tasmania. H. europaeum has course haired stems and leaves. The leaves are oval or egg-shaped, greyish-green and positioned in alternate order. It produces white, tube-shaped flowers that are arranged in two rows along one side of the curved flower spike.

Heliotrope Toxic Components

All parts of H. europaeum contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are known for causing liver damage to horses if ingested. Generally, the plant is unpalatable to horses, unless they lack sufficient forage to consume in their pasture. H. europaeum is toxic also in dried form and can sometimes get mixed up in haybales since it tends to grow in hayfields. Horses are more likely to ingest H. europaeum if it contaminates their hay. Ingestion of the plant can cause pyrrolizidine alkaloid toxicity in horses, which can eventually result in liver failure.