Heliotrope was the name used to describe the particular shade of purple which this small vanilla scented South American shrub produces. Once favoured as a respectable colour to be worn by ladies, it even gets discussed as such in the drama series The Jewel in the Crown based on Paul Scott's novels The Raj Quartet. Perhaps it was a familiar shrub in the warm "Hill Station" gardens of British India.
The crinkled furry leaves are also tinged purple. It is a useful shrub for use under trees or on embankments in a semi shaded position though it will tolerate full sun. It forms a sprawling shrub about a metre high and across. There are a couple of other forms including one with golden foliage and one with white flowers. They are just barely frost tolerant and prefer a warm to hot spot to do well . Flowers are produced constantly in the warm months and they need regular light pruning to keep them in shape.The perfume is one you never get tired of as it is warm and sweet .
The colour using industries adopted the name in about 1880