09 February 2013

Desert Hyacinth (Cistanche tubulosa) - Ash Shargiyah Development Company Farm (Fadhili)

Whilst birdwatching at Ash Shargiyah Development Company Farm we came across a number of very nice examples of Desert Hyacinth (Cistanche tubulosa) which is a widely distributed annual that produces a dense pyramid spike of bright yellow flowers topped by maroon-tinted buds. It is one of the showiest plants of Eastern Arabia with bright yellow, dense column of flowers sometimes approaching one metre in height. It has varying flower colour with the flowers either tightly packed in the spike or loose. The plants were seen along tracks and by the roadside of the farm and appeared to hvave come up quickly in the last few days as some were growing on sandy tracks with relatively new tyre tracks on them. They are widespread on sandy or sandy-silty ground and can tolerate saline environments as well as disturbed conditions, so are often seen growing near roads or tracks in the desert or along the shores of the Arabian Gulf. They are parasitic, one of several such plants in Arabia, and live off other plants to gain their nutritional needs, as they have no green parts or leaves to synthesise chlorophyll directly.