20 January 2024

Ochradenus baccatus or Pearl Plant – Dhahran Hills

Whilst birdwatching the Dhahran Hills area in January I came across a large flowering shrub that turned out to be Ochradenus baccatus. This is a perennial glycophyte growing on sandy and stony habitats in Middle East and it is one of the most important food sources for many animal species in desert regions. The green stems help leaves in conducting photosynthesis, especially when leaves are weakened after severe drought environment. This species is widely distributed and is found in Ethiopia, Egypt, Libya, Middle East, Iran and extends into Pakistan. Ochradenus baccatus reaches up to two metres tall and grows as a bush. The species produces yellow flowers, followed by whitish berry containing black seeds. It flowers mainly from December to March in Saudi Arabia and is one of the largest shrubs that grows in the Eastern Province with the “spikes” of tiny, yellow, apetalous flowers, that are slightly fragrant, attracting insects such as the Painted Lady, many of which were attracted to the shrub photographed above.