Native to South America, but introduced as an ornamental plant to many parts of the world. It is now present in the United States along the eastern seaboard south to Florida, west along the Gulf States to Texas, and in California and Hawaii.
A perennial with a strong root system. Reproduction is from seeds, but foliage can grow back from the roots if the upper part of the plant is destroyed. A potential problem in landscape as well as along roadsides and in disturbed areas.
Stems are erect or slightly leaning, up to 2 feet in height. The stems and leaves are covered with soft hairs, and the leaves are alternate, elongate and lance shaped, with deeply toothed margins and very prominent veins, and up to 2.5 inches long. The flowers occur in elongate clusters at the ends of the stems, with the stem curving outward in the typical manner of the heliotropes. Flowers are violet with 5 petals that are fused at their bases, giving the flower a star-shaped appearance.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
Physical removal of individual plants will be effective in small infestations, and a systemic non-selective herbicide will effectively kill plants.