Did You Know?
Helios was the god of the sun in Greek mythology, and helio- came to appear in a number of sun-related English words. The genus known as the heliotropes consists of about 250 species; many are thought of as weeds, but the best-known species, garden heliotrope, is a popular and fragrant perennial that resembles the forget-me-not. The heliotrope tends to follow the sun—that is, turn its blossoms toward the sun as it travels from East to West every day. But the fact is, heliotropism—turning toward the sun—is common among flowers (and even leaves), and some, like the sunflower, are more dramatically heliotropic than the heliotrope. Those in the far North actually use their petals to reflect the sun's heat onto the flower's central ovary during the short growing season.
Origin and Etymology of heliotrope
Latin heliotropium, from Greek hēliotropion, from hēlio- 1heli- + tropos turn; from its flowers' turning toward the sun — more at trope
First Known Use: 1605
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