Last updated on May 21st, 2023 at 09:03 am

A traditional plant gaining popularity, heliotrope is usually initially discovered by smell instead of sight. These flowers possess an aroma that is sweet and reminiscent of sweet vanilla scents or baby powder, grapes, and cherry pie which attract pollinators. 

Heliotrope flower meaning has its roots in its name. Heliotropium is a genus of flowering plants that is part of the family of borage (Boraginaceae). It has around 325 species. 

Heliotropium arborescens, a garden heliotrope, is an evergreen plant that can grow to about 3 feet (0.91 m) in height with a distinct scent that ranges from vanilla to cherries. The cherry pie plants, also called H. arborescens are the most well-known plant species that grow throughout the Americas and Europe.

European turnsole, also known as Common Heliotrope Heliotropium Europaeum, is endemic to Europe, Asia, and North Africa but grows wild. It is sometimes referred to as a weed across North America and Australia. It is a clump of tiny white flowers with fuzzy sepals. The spikes appear like caterpillars and grow curly when they develop. 

“Heliotrope” comes from the Greek for sun, Helios, and trepein, meaning “to turn.” The name refers to the heliotrope flower’s tendency to rotate and face the sun throughout the day. 

The term “heliotrope” derives from the ancient belief that the flowers of these plants revolved their flower rows towards the sun. Another name commonly used for blooms from Middle English is “turnsole,” which means turning to the sun.

What does the Heliotrope flower symbolize?

Heliotrope flower meaning and symbolism are structured around devotion and undying love. The heliotrope represents the Sun during its daily course, and the light radiates. The flower’s characteristic of turning to follow the Sun’s path symbolizes the lover or soul constantly turning its attention and thinking of the person they love. It is a symbol of perfection, continually extended to the contemplative mind that seeks to be united.

It initially crowned the heads of Roman emperors and monarchs in the eastern regions of Europe and Asia. It was later employed in Christian iconography as a symbol of The Trinity, Our Lady, apostles, prophets, angels, and saints. Christians have often compared themselves to the heliotropes, who follow God as they would if he were their Sun. 

The solar plant is depicted in a glass painting depicting St Remy in Reims with two heliotrope branches arising from the haloes surrounding the head.

So the heliotrope comes to signify prayer and holiness. As per Proclus, the heliotrope praises and sings the Lord’s praises, and we can feel it through reason and touch. Proclus believed that the sky-blue heliotrope was as praying as it always looked toward its Lord to show its devotion.

According to Greek legend, the water Nymph Clytie was loved but then spurned by Helios, the sun god. She could not be soothed. The broken Clytie longed for Helios and sat in one spot, simply turning her head to see his chariot whirl through the sky every day. She died of grief and was transformed into a heliotrope, a flower that stays with the Sun like the person she lost love to. The heliotrope changes its “face” to follow the direction of the Sun’s path like Clytie used to do. 

It symbolizes the difficulty of overcoming emotions and the willingness to accept the influence of the loved one. Therefore, it expressed love and devotion for the Victorian flower-related language.

The tale has been told and retold through poetry and art over the ages, through works like Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Elizabeth Colomba’s paintings, and George Frederic Watts’s sculptures. The delicate scent can be a sign also, of intoxication with enchantment, just as it does with laurels or adoration.

All in all, the heliotrope flower symbolic meanings are:

  • eternal love
  • devotion
  • worship
  • loyalty

Meaning of the Heliotrope flower colors

Purple color

The royal hue of purple flowers symbolizes respect, traditions, success, and dignity. Purple heliotropes are closely associated with the Greek legend of Clytie and Helios. A bouquet that is adorned with purple flowers could symbolize admiration and love. 

Gifting purple heliotropes to loved ones like your spouse or family members is a way to motivate or inspire an individual who might have faced a setback in their creative process.

White color

White represents purity and innocence, untroubled souls, hearts, and minds. It also signifies integrity, grace, and clarity. White heliotropes may be gifted if you don’t want anyone to interpret your feelings toward them mistakenly. It can also be used to present someone you have an undefined or unclear relationship with. 

White heliotrope is given to convey respect, love, and loyalty. White flowers symbolize purity and faith, innocence, spiritual awakening, and angelic messages. Because of these associations, white heliotropes are given at the beginning of a new chapter, like weddings, births, or funerals.

Pink color

Heliotropes in pink combine innocence, fun, and sensuality. It is the most romantic hue because they’re not as intense as deep reds and offer a broader spectrum of possibilities for love. The traditional use of pink flowers is associated with femininity, delicacy, and gentleness. 

More and more couples are breaking conventional expectations and accepting pink flowers as a symbol of spontaneity and thoughtfulness. If you’re unsure how to convey your affection, present your loved one with an arrangement of blue and pink heliotropes. Pink symbolizes spontaneity and love, making it an ideal present for long-distance friends or family members.

Blue color

The soothing blues found in the stunning heliotropes provide peace. Blue flowers can have a relaxing impact. They soothe the mind and induce a calm mood. Blue heliotropes symbolize intimacy and are the perfect flower for couples with long-term commitments who wish to express their sincere and enduring confidence. 

The tranquility of blue blooms makes them the ideal funeral or get-well flower. The light blue hues soothe anxiety and worries. Fresh floral arrangements with blue heliotropes are an antidote for anxiety.

Interesting facts about the Heliotrope flowers

  • Every component of the plant is harmful to humans and may cause digestive issues or damage to the liver when consumed in large quantities. If consumed over a long time, it can cause severe liver damage in horses.
  • Certain variants of the plant are weeds. Many are hepatotoxic when consumed in large quantities because of the abundance of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. There have been instances of dogs dying from excessive consumption of this poisonous plant.
  • Since it’s not the most appealing food, most animals ignore it. There have been reports of swine, horses, and cattle being poisoned due to the contamination of the hay.
  • In the 16th century of Europe, The “Doctrine of Signatures” held that plants that appeared like human anatomy could exert therapeutic effects on that part of the body. 
  • Nowadays, we know heliotrope has chemicals that can cause harm to the liver. Consuming any of the H. arborescens for medical treatment isn’t advised.
  • Heliotrope tinctures may be applied for topical treatment of skin problems like calluses, warts, wounds, and infections. Essential oils are often used in massage.
  • Indian heliotrope (H. Indicum) is a key ingredient in the traditional treatment of the Philippines. Juice extracted from the plant serves to heal wounds, ulcers, and conjunctivitis.
  • Due to its fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are attracted to the heliotrope. Heliotrope is an ideal option for a garden that needs pollinators.
  • Certain danainae butterflies, including the male queen butterfly, go to the plants due to their pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
  • The grass jewel caterpillar (Freyeria trochylus) is a gossamer-winged butterfly that consumes H. strigosum.
  • The juice of European Heliotrope flowers was used to color food items early in the Middle Ages and early modern French food preparation.
  • The most well-known music for ragtime piano includes “Heliotrope Bouquet,” composed in 1907 by Louis Chauvin (the first two versions), along with Scott Joplin (the last two variations).
  • Garden heliotrope is cultivated across Southern Europe as an ingredient in perfume.
  • The purplish rash on the face that resembles dermatomyositis is called “heliotrope rash” because it resembles E. arborescens.
  • The botanical name for heliotrope originates from Latin Valere, which translates to “to be well.” Valerian is the name given to heliotrope. Valerian is used to treating insomnia, as well as other disorders. It is a viable alternative to benzodiazepine.

How to grow Heliotrope flowers

Heliotrope is a perennial plant of cooler climates. It is also a perennial or half-hardy perennial in warmer temperatures. It can reach 6 feet (1.83 m) high and 8 feet (2.44 m) in width in its habitat. The ovate leaves have thick dark veins and are rough textured. Heliotrope blooms in clusters with purple, white, blue, or pink flowers during summer or fall. Buds open in a dark purple color, gradually becoming lighter as they open and get older.

  1. Plant heliotropes in rich, loamy soil that drains well but keeps some moisture.
  2. Place them in a location where they will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
  3. Keep the plant’s soil evenly moist but not soggy, and avoid letting the plants dry out.
  4. Fertilize regularly during the growing season.

How to care for Heliotrope flowers

  1. Water early in the morning to avoid getting the foliage wet.
  2. Apply a phosphorus-rich fertilizer to encourage more blooms.
  3. In the early spring, pinch the stems and blossoms to induce greater lateral development.
  4. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage reblooming.

Best time to gift Heliotrope flowers

Heliotrope is a gorgeous floral gift for nearly every occasion. Its vibrant color and delicious fragrance make it ideal for birthdays, celebrations, congratulations, and many other events. Heliotrope is a perfect flower for weddings, anniversaries, and romantic gestures since it symbolizes affection and love. Flowers can be delivered in bouquets or arrangements. It’s also an excellent option for decorating pots and containers for gardens.


Heliotrope surprisingly represents eternal love. The half-hardy perennial brings beneficial pollinators into the landscape with delicate but striking blue, purple, white, and purple blooms. Heliotrope flowers are prized because of their delightful scent, which perfumes your air with vanilla. 

Heliotropes provide delicious scents and vibrant flowers to the landscape. Because of their powerful symbolism, these beautiful flowers can be thoughtful bouquets for friends and friends.

If you want to know and learn more about flowers, we at PansyMaiden can help you. Check out our fun, easy-to-read, and informative flower-related content that you will surely enjoy!