Arta

Calligonum comosum - (G. Simkins)
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Scientific Name Calligonum comosum Arabic Name Arta Tagged As Plant, Shrub, Buckwheat, Knotweed Endangered Status
 

Botanical Description

Virtually leafless perennial shrub up to 2.5m tall, stem much branched from thick woody rootstock. Main stems dark and rough often with peeling bark, older branches white with swollen nodes, less rough but angular and fragile and often dropping. Twigs slender, dark green looks from a distance like long trailing hairs.

Leaves

If present, minute, 3-5mm long, falling off quickly.

Flowers

Many, five white sepals with greenish central stripe, no petals, with bright red anthers, on short stalks from leaf nodes, sometimes clustered.

Fruit

A showy, bristly nut covered with rusty red or white furry hairs, becoming dirty yellow in maturity.

Flowering

From December to April.

Habitat

Sand plains, dunes and roadsides.

Distribution

Common and widespread in sand dunes and plains.

Globally

Distributed around northeast Africa, Egypt, Sinai, Palestine, Arabia to Pakistan.

Uses

This species is an excellent desert sand binder, cultivated and used for windbreaks around desert plantations; used as firewood, as it burns smokelessly; dried leaves and stems are chewed to treat toothache, young shoots collected as salad greens or powdered to add to milk as a tonic or flavouring, fruits are edible.

Also used for the tanning of hides, as a major food source for camels, and an indicator of the presence of sweet water.