8th January 2015

The Winter Heliotrope is much more likely to be found in the south of the UK than the north, and likes damp areas like around and ditches. It was introduced from North Africa and is a favourite of mine because it flowers from November to February. It is one of the main ingredients of the herbal Swiss Tea, and is thought to help with eye strain. I stopped by the village Church yesterday to photograph it, and the powerful scent of vanilla it gives off filled the air. It has sometimes been planted deliberately near bee hives because it is a rare winter provider of pollen, but take care as it can be invasive. From March on, only the kidney shaped leaves will be visible, and although it flowers through winter, it is not very frost hardy so all the flowers can be lost in cold winters. Heliotrope means ‘turning with the sun’ and this flower turns from east to west during the day, turning east again over night ready for the sunrise! We used to call it the snake plant but I can’t find any reference to this local name , or reason for it. Temperature: Max 8- Min 4C.

The Winter Heliotrope smells strongly of vanilla

The Winter Heliotrope smells strongly of vanilla

Winter Heliotrope is a great source of early pollen

Winter Heliotrope is a great source of early pollen

A patch of Winter Heliotrope- great source of winter pollen.

A patch of Winter Heliotrope- from March onwards only the kidney shaped leaves will be visible..

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