Desert Hyacinth

Desert Hyacinth - (G. Nel)
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Scientific Name Cistanche tubulosa Arabic Name Thanoon Tagged As Plant, Shrub, Broomrape Endangered Status
 

Botanical Description

Branchless parasite fleshy herb, up to 1m high with erect whitish single stem, simple and up to 4cm thick, stem arise from tuber.

The plant is connected with its host plant by means of a thin root that can extend from the tuber over a distance of several meters.

Hosts are usually of the Chenopodiaceae or Zygophyllaceae families.

Leaves

The plant is covered with long sturdy overlapping brown or paler scale-like leaves, which point upwards.

Flowers

Compact in dense spikes, consisting of showy flowers, calyx five and lobed, corolla funnel shaped, petals bright yellow, orange or almost white, sometime with orange purplish lobes, with rolled-out margins, flower tubes curved at base.

Fruits

Capsule, black, pea-like containing large amounts of dust fine seed.

Flowering

From December to March.

Habitat

Salines sands.

Distribution

Common in coastal areas of the Arabian Gulf coast and on inland saline sand plains.

Uses

Boiled stem used for treating diarrhoea. Dried powdered plant, mixed with camel milk, used to treat contusions; in North Africa believed to have aphrodisiac properties.