Camel Thorn(Alhagi maurorum)

Botanical Name :Alhagi maurorum
Family: Fabaceae/Leguminosae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Genus: Alhagi
Species: A. maurorum
SynonymsAlhagi camelorum – Fisch.,Alhagi persarum – Boiss.&Buhse., Alhagi pseudalhagi – (M.Bieb.)Desv. ex B.Keller.&Shap., Hedysarum pseudalhagi – M.Bieb.
Common Name : Camelthorn. Manna tree,

Habitat: This shrub is native to the region extending from the Mediterranean to Russia but has been introduced to many other areas of the world, including Australia, southern Africa, and the western United States.   Edges of ditches, waste and often saline places etc in Turkey. Grows in dry barren places.

Description:
The decidious perennial plant grows from a massive rhizome system which may extend over six feet deep into the ground. New shoots can appear over 20 feet from the parent plant. Above the ground the plant rarely reaches four feet in height. It is a heavily-branched gray-green thicket with long spines along the branches. It bears small bright pink to maroon pea flowers and small legume pods which are brown or reddish and constricted between the seeds. The seeds are mottled brown beans.
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The plant, which is grayish green and hairless, has simple, entire leaves that are alternately arranged. The leaf shape is oval to lance-shaped. The small (3/8 inch), pea-like flowers are pinkish purple to maroon and are borne on short, spine-tipped branches that arise from the leaf axils. The reddish-brown to tan fruits are constricted between the seeds, with a short narrow beak at the end.

Camelthorn is a noxious weed in its non-native range. It is a contaminant of alfalfa seed and grows readily when accidentally introduced to a cultivated field. It has a wide tolerance of soils, thriving on saline, sandy, rocky, and dry soils. It does best when growing next to a source of water, such as an irrigation ditch. It is unpalatable to animals and irritating when it invades forage and grazing land.

It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)It can fix Nitrogen.
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Cultivation :
Requires a sunny position in a well-drained light or medium soil. Plants are not very hardy in Britain, they can be grown outdoors in the summer but require protection in the winter. The stems of the plant are covered in sharp spines. Like the closely related gorse (Ulex europaea) the flowers have a pineapple scent. (A slightly strange report because the gorse flowers have a strong coconut fragrance.) This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Propagation
:-
Seed – pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and sow March/April in a warm greenhouse. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least the first winter. Plant out into their permanent positions in the summer. Cuttings of young shoots in a frame.

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Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Manna.

A sweet-tasting manna is exuded from the twigs at flowering time. It is exuded during hot weather according to one report. It contains about 47% melizitose, 26% sucrose, 12% invert sugar. Another manna is obtained from the pods – it is sweet and laxative. Root – cooked. A famine food, it is only used in times of need .

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
:-
Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Laxative.

The whole plant is diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and laxative. An oil from the leaves is used in the treatment of rheumatism. The flowers are used in the treatment of piles.


Scented Plants

Flowers: Fresh
The flowers have a pineapple scent.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Alhagi+maurorum
http://www.wildflowers.co.il/english/plant.asp?ID=183
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alhagi_maurorum

http://www.texasinvasives.org/invasives_database/detail.php?symbol=ALMA12

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