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Annual, perennial herb, shrubs, generally bristly or sharply hairy
Stem prostrate to erect
Leaves cauline, often with basal rosette, generally simple, alternate; lower sometimes opposite, entire
Inflorescence: cyme, generally elongate, panicle-, raceme- or spike-like, coiled in flower, generally uncoiled in fruit or flowers 1–2 per axil
Flowers generally bisexual, generally radial; sepals 5, free or fused in lower half; corolla 5-lobed, generally salverform, top of tube generally appendaged, appendages 5, alternating with stamens, sometimes arching over tube; stamens 5, epipetalous; ovary superior, generally 4-lobed, style generally entire
Fruit: nutlets 1–4, smooth to variously roughened, sometimes prickly or bristled
Genera in family: ± 100 genera, ± 2000 species: tropical, temp, especially w North America, Medit; some cultivated (Borago, Echium, Myosotis, Symphytum ). Almost all genera may be TOXIC from alkaloids or accumulated nitrates
Recent taxonomic note: Recently treated to include Hydrophyllaceae [Olmsted et al. 2000 Mol Phylog Evol 16:96–112]
Family description, key to genera by Timothy C. Messick.



Dieter H. Wilken

Annual, perennial herb, shrub, glabrous to bristly or strigose
Stems prostrate to erect, branched
Leaves generally cauline, petioled to sessile, generally entire
Inflorescence: flower 1 and axillary or terminal spikes with many flowers, coiled in flower
Flower: corolla rotate to bell-shaped, white to purple; stamens inserted on upper tube, included, anthers ± sessile; style attached atop ovary, stigma linear to disk-like
Fruit: nutlets 2 or 4, erect, generally ovoid to spheric, smooth, roughened or hairy, scar generally lateral
Species in genus: ± 250 species: temp, tropical. Orn, cultivated for medicinal drugs
Etymology: (Greek: sun turning, because some species flowering at summer solstice)


H. curassavicum L.

Perennial, sometimes from rhizome-like root
Stem prostrate to weakly ascending, 1–6 dm, fleshy, glabrous
Leaf 1–6 cm, generally oblanceolate, short-petioled to subsessile, acute to obtuse, fleshy, glabrous
Inflorescence: spikes 2–4, terminal, coiled in flower
Flower: calyx lobes oblong to narrowly ovate, glabrous; corolla 3–5 mm, bell-shaped, limb 3–4 mm wide, white to bluish
Fruit: nutlets 4, smooth
Ecology: Moist to dry, saline soils
Elevation: < 2100 m.
Bioregional distribution: California
Distribution outside California: Nevada, Arizona, subtropical, tropical America
Flowering time: Mar–Oct
Synonyms: H. c. var. oculatum (A. Heller) I.M. Johnst
Horticultural information: 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 24 IRR: 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; STBL; INV.

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