flowers in Saudi Arabia

Many plants like to grow in the sandy areas. Most of them are annuals that spring up at the first rain and fill the depressions between the dunes and cover flat, sandy areas near the dunes. They are mostly low-growing, with white flowers. The perennials are mostly bushy with extremely long roots stretching down deep into the sand in search of water, or laterally to catch any moisture soaking in from a light shower or dew. These are good sand stabilizers. The dunes are quite often covered with grass, particularly if there is a good rain-fall.

Goosefoot family

When they first force their way up through the sand they look ike very large asparagus shoots. The stem is thick and fleshy and produces a pyramid of bright yellow flowers topped by pale mauve buds that open is the plant continues growing. Each plant seems to have a Different hue. It can grow up to 60 or 70 centimetres high and the roots of the Goosefoot family can stretch many metres in search of water, they can spring up in what appears to be a completely barren spot.

The plant is an annual and each one can produce many thousands of tiny seeds which are able to lie dormant for perhaps more than twenty years. The seed can only germinate when a root of the lost plant comes within a few millimeters of it and sets up a chemical reaction. The whole plant is said to be poisonous, the beduoins believing it to be harmful even to just smell it.

silene villosa

A member of the Pink Family (Caryophyllaceae) which prefers the sand dunes, is this large-flowered Catch-fly. The name «silene» comes from the Greek «Sialon», meaning «saliva», referring to the stickiness of some species. Green- fly stick to them and so the genus is nick-named «Catch-fly». It flowers in March April and May and practically covers the dunes in some places. These photos were taken on the Dahna dunes east of Riyadh and on the Urayq Mijharrah dunes behind Ghat-Ghat to the west of Riyadh. It is called turbah in Arabic.

heliotropium ramoslsslmum

Another Turnsole growing on sand dunes, with significant flowers but looking very attractive against the golden sand. They both bloom in the cooler lonths, February to April, usually. The best photographs are taken on the dunes near al Kharj, about 100 ms. south of Riyadh during March.

This member of the Forget-me-not or Borage Family (Boraginaceae) can be boiled in water and used asa mouth wash to cure sore gums and mouth blisters. It is called Heliotrope or Turnsole in English and «ram-ram» in Arabic.

anthemis deserti

The «Desert Chamomile», in the Daisy Family (Compositae), is one of the most common flowers in the wadis during the cool rainy season. The pure white flowers can cover large areas of sandy or silty soil looking as though they had been cultivated. It is called «aq'huwan» or «kur'bayan» in Arabic.

horwoodia dicksoniae

This plant seems to prefer sandy places and can cover wide areas near the Dahna sand dunes to the west of Riyadh. It has also split onto the stony hilis along Wadi Jafi nearby and fills the air with its heady fragrance. Named after Dame Violet Dickson, who wrote «The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain», it is endemic of Arabia. It blooms from February untiI the hot weather in ApriI or May. It is in the Mustard or Cabbage Fami Iy (Cruciferae) and is called «khuza'ma» in Arabic.

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