Heliotrope was discovered in Peru high up in the Andes. Joseph de Jussieu, a French botanist, wrote that he smelled its scent before he found the plant.
From the seeds he sent to the king in Paris came the first blooming of the plant in all of Europe.
Heliotrope comes from the Greek word helios, meaning the sun, and trope, meaning to turn for many thought that it would turn its heads with the sun as we see in the sunflower (Helianthus). However, it does not turn with the sun.
The flower has been used as a remedy for warts and gout and used in a lozenge. Perfumers use heliotrope in the manufacture of certain perfumes.