Mysterious disease in the Zygophyllum in the desert

A mysterious disease is killing hundreds of Zygophyllum flora in the desert

Zygophyllum qatarense synonym Tetraena qatarensis (Haram in Arabic) is important flora of the desert ecosystem

Tetraena (Zygophullum) is one the of most important flora in the desert, especially in the United Arab Emirates. It is not only food (leaves and twigs for livestock and wild animals), but also life support to the birds and insects. This plant is also an important source of water for camels & goats (the plant’s bulbs are full of water and minerals), the birds (migratory birds eat the bulbs for water and salts), flowers provide nectars for the butterflies and bees (ultimately provide prey for migratory birds), and the mature/fallen bulbs become the food for the detritivores. The Strong and Resilient Plant of Desert; Tetraena qatarensis synonym Zygophyllum qatarense, commonly known as Harm or Hadidi

Highly resilient flora, sustain in a wide range of ecological regions

Zygophyllum is a salt-tolerant plant, found in the Arabian Peninsula, Persia, and the Gulf of Oman.  In adaptation to retaining water in its saline environment, it has small compact leaves that are rather fleshy and succulent (bulbs). The leaf has two leaflets and the flowers have four or five delicate petals. (picture). It grows in arid conditions and is both drought and salt-tolerant (Xerophyte as well as halophyte). In the Persian Gulf area, the summer is very hot, and ground moisture present evaporates and the soil becomes increasingly salty. Under these conditions, the leaves dry up and fall off the plant, and it can survive in a leafless state for several years. When significant rain falls in winter, the soil becomes less salty and the plant is stimulated into new growth. The seeds only germinate in rainy conditions as the coat of the seed is very hard. How does Tetraena qatarensis synonym Zygophyllum qatarense Support Wildlife and Livestock in the Desert?

Zygophyllum provides a panoramic view of the ecosystem

In a youtube video, I’m explaining the importance of Zygophyllum just from the field/desert. You can better understand the landscape’s beauty and diversity along with the panoramic view of the flora habitat. Tetraena qatarensis synonym Zygophyllum qatarense, is a unique flora of the desert ecosystems

Sadly, a mysterious disease is killing the important flora

Last year (Nov. 2021) I found some very important changes in the foliage of the Zygophyllum flora. I found many dead leaves and shoots gathered as a loop and still attached to the plant. Some plants have many such loops of dead plant material but others have few. At that time, it was not widespread but this year very few are unaffected while the majority are infected very badly.

Though I’m not a plant pathologist apparently I can see a big change in the look and beauty of the plant. A few days before, I put a post on Twitter to highlight this disease and ask for help as this flora is a very special food for the camels in the desert.

How does the problem start?

Here in the following gallery, you will see very critical images of the diseased flora. You can see in the images that host it starts with a web of the insect (unknown)

How the problem advances and covers the larger part of the flora?

How it kills the Zygophyllum flora?

Sadly we can see much dead flora in the desert. The losses are very high already.

The Zygophyllum in the enclosure (protected from grazing/browsing of camels is badly affected

The grazing by camels somehow helps in enriching the strength and resilience of the flora. In the following, you can see that the flora inside the enclosure are very badly affected and we can observe much dead flora.

There are many died Zygophyllum flora in the enclosures, mean not browsed by camels
There are many died Zygophyllum flora in the enclosures, which means not browsed by camels

I’m a Desert whistleblower

I love walking and exploring the desert. The desert in Alain is my main area of exploration as I live in Alain, home to beautiful red sand. The first time I reported from the desert about the killing role of plastic pollution; I found many caresses of camels died of plastic ingestion. I knew about the cause of the camels’ death and then I started an activity, cleaning the desert of plastic pollution. Camel died of Pica, eating all types of rubbishy.


Some important links about the issues I reported from the desert.

Save the soul of the desert – Zygophyllum flora

Sadly, I don’t know about the plants’ diseases to help so I’m humbly requesting the plant pathologist who works with desert science to come forward and work out this important phenomenon and save the life of the precious Zygophyllum.



2 thoughts on “A mysterious disease is killing hundreds of Zygophyllum flora in the desert”

  1. Good morning Dr Kakar,
    Zygophyllum has long been used traditionally in Algeria for a range of diseases: skin, diarrhea and diabetes, used as an anti-septic and stimulant.
    The National Institute of Agronomic Research of Algeria tested it as a control for date palm diseases and published in 2016. May I suggest that you contact one of the authors of the research, Wassima Lakhdari and ask for her assistance.
    As ever I hope all is well with you and your family.
    Barrie Reid

    1. Good evening and thanks very much.
      Yes, Zygophyllum is an amazing flora, being used as a herbal medicine for centuries. Yes it is also use as a laxative, skincare and sunblock.
      I’m very happy knowing about its usage in Algeria. Yes, please connect me with a scientist who really knows about the Zygophyllum.
      Best regards

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