Why native flora diversity is better than monoculture forest for replantation

My point of view

I always emphasized to please plant the native flora for replantation, and reforestation. Even, in the cities, parks, lawns, schools, hospitals, and universities. It will give a positive impact on the environment and nature. It will provide better habitat to the local or native biodiversity such as; birds, bugs, insects, lizards, herbivores, and others. https://arkbiodiv.com/2022/01/23/native-shrubs-are-the-best-for-the-municipal-and-homes-beautifications/amp/

Beautiful Emirates' Tree
Wherever you walk in the desert, you will see and meet the beautiful wooden flora, Prosopis. These trees act as a source of landmarks and help as GPS for livestock and wild animals.

I’m a desert, rangelands, and livestock ecologist, always promoting the idea to develop the grazing lands with native biodiversity. In the meanwhile, I suggested many times to use native flora for plantation even in the parks, lawns, and other places as I mentioned above. Here is an example of the Morning Glory (Convolvulus cephalopods) which can give beauty at very low costs as it is resistant to drought and pestshttps://arkbiodiv.com/2022/03/03/the-beautiful-morning-glory-convolvulus-cephalopods-in-the-desert-of-alain-uae/amp/.

This is a very good article that supports my opinion

With the title as; “Managing forests for competing goals” the Science magazine published an article based on the findings of Feng et al. Feng et al. synthesized a dataset from several hundred publications across six continents to determine whether multispecies planting had advantages over monocultures in productivity. They found that growth and productivity were substantially greater when multiple tree species were grown together compared with monocultures, echoing findings in natural systems of positive relationships between productivity and plant biodiversity. They attribute their results to niche complementarity when different plant forms—such as deciduous and needle-leafed trees—are grown together. Collectively, the studies by Hua et al. and Feng et al. suggest that more complex, multispecies plantations may offer the promise of higher productivity while at least in part supporting biodiversity and providing ecosystem services. Replacing native forests with plantations, even multispecies plantations, cannot fully restore biodiversity, but well-designed forest restorations may support important ecological and conservation goals while providing economic value. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abp8463

Native sheep breed of Balochistan Pakistan
Native livestock breeds are highly resilient and sustain their productivity in limited resources

I have been documenting, analyzing, and reporting the worth of native flora in the context of biodiversity, food (for us and livestock), environmental support, and another aspect of goodness. Here is the link to my general article about the goodness of trees and other flora.

I’m giving a field presence in a video about the possible use of Haloxyllon sp for hedging in the parks, lawns, and beautification places. I’m also continuously writing on Twitter for the goodness of our Mother Earth and huminity.

Arabian Boxthorn (Lycium shawii), AWSAJ in Arabic

Before, I wrote as ‘Please help me in the identification of this climber shrub’ but I knew the answer. Thanks to my friend Saharan Shephard who replied to my query and provided the name with some details.

The shrub has weak stems (mostly many) and climbs on other trees. I found it in Alain Abu Dhabi. It is in the flowering stage now. It has small simple leaves, thorny stalks, and red cherries (though I found one). According to Wikipedia, it is found throughout the Arabian Peninsula.

Arabian boxthorn is a spreading, very spiny shrub growing 1 – 3 meters tall, exceptionally becoming a small tree up to 4.5 meters tall. The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as food and medicine. It is also grown as a hedge. https://arkbiodiv.com/2022/01/23/native-shrubs-are-the-best-for-the-municipal-and-homes-beautifications/

Here the Lycium flora is climbed on an Acacia tortillas tree. I found only one fruit, yellow berry. Inside the fruit is a few small seed-like tomatoes.
Beautiful flowers with olive-like leaves
The stalks are blackish in color

Some more details about the flora Lycium shawii

Lycium shawii is highly adapted to desert ecosystems. The thin-leaved, rigid bush grows up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) high, with a lot of branches and alternating spines that vary in size, and grow along the branches and on their tips. The leaves narrow towards their base. It produces small whitish-pink or purple flowers from Sep to Apr. The fruit is small red pea-sized (seedy berries), edible, and used as herbal medicine as well. The flora like to be the neighbor of Acacia tortillas and Prosopis cineraria to climb and thrive better.

Lycium shawii climbed on an Acacia tortillas tree
Lycium shawii climbed on an Acacia tortillas tree
The shrub has a weaker stem, can’t erect by itself
The thorny stalk of the Lycium shawii

Is it native or exotic?

Yes; It is native to the desert ecosystem of the Arabian Peninsula and some parts of Africa.

It can be used as hedging, fencing, and live wall, my exceptional idea of replacing exotic plants with native flora. https://arkbiodiv.com/2022/01/23/native-shrubs-are-the-best-for-the-municipal-and-homes-beautifications/amp/

Native VS the Exotic Flora – Conserve Nature and Enrich Your Ecosystem

Haloxyllon and Leptadenia as a natural live wall
Haloxyllon and Leptadenia as a live wall in Hili Alain United Arab Emirates.

Appeal and Out of the box thinking

I strongly appeal to all the people and municipalities of the world, especially the Arabian Peninsula to adapt the best solution and conserve nature by using native flora/shrubs for hedging, fencing, wall beautifications, herbariums, botanical gardens, lawns, and other vegetation projects because of many reasons. The idea is equally good for all the regions of the world but here my main focus is on the desert flora and Arabian Peninsula.

The native biodiversity of the Arabian Peninsula

In the following gallery, different plants and insects of the region are provided. The list is very long but here few important are provided.

The reasons behind the idea

  • No need for watering as the native flora are highly drought tolerant and can survive years without rains.
  • The native flora can be plant in any type of soil as they are highly salt tolerant in nature
  • Mostly, the native flora do not need an fertilizer, pesticides, or mineral suppliments
  • They do not need intensive care, saving a thousands of hours of labor time
  • A strong support to the flora and fauna biodiversity of the region
  • The native flora are ecofriendly, perform far better than exotic plants and better survive in climatic extremes
  • Also, native flora provides habitat to the mini-wildlife of the region, like honeybees, whisps, beetles, reptiles, birds, and many others
  • The additional but very important role can be fodder production for the camels and other livestock. The stalk trimmed for beautification can be a very good camel feed. The municipility like Abu Dhabi can produce thousands of tons of fodder for camels annualy and can save a huge volume of import expences
  • The municipality can save up to million of liter water annually which can be use for other environmental support projects
  • The native flora can be use for the herbal medication as the traditional knowledge using the herbs is still very strong in different region
  • Such projects will be a great support for nature conservation

We can form miniature herbariums, living walls, live-fencing, and botanical garden in the cities with the native flora

It is really a great theme to use the native flora (highly tolerant to the drought conditions and saline soil textures) for different vegetation projects like herbarium, botanical garden, living walls, living fencing, landscaping, lawns, and other plantation projects. The native plants can fulfill all the purposes with a very low input system.

Alain Municipality has taken great initiatives alread

In many places of the Alain city, you will notice a lot of native flora have been used for the city beautification, like Leptadenia, and other plants (many from the Jable Hafeeth origin), which is really a very environment-friendly act. I would especially suggest flora like Haloxyllon salicornicum and Zygophyllum qatarense for making fences and walls as they can climb on support and get strengthen their stems with time.

Some References for watching and reading

Exploring the desert penology

Conserve the nature with the change in ideas

A shift in the idea can bring a very big and positive change. Using the native flora will impact nature and the environment very positively.

Desert Gift -Heliotropium bacciferum 

The points I noted about the Helitrope

  • Botanical name: Heliotropium bacciferum
  • English: Helitrope, Turnsole
  • Arabic name: Ramram, رمرام,  ذنب العقرب
  • Pashtu name: پتنګانو مور (Mother of butterflies as it is flowing round the year)
  • Region of documentation: United Arab Emirates
  • Type of flora: Bush/shrub
  • Found in Arabian Peninsula, ME, Persia and parts of South Asia
  • Qualitative documentation based on personal experience and traditional knowledge: Highly tolerant to drought, salts (xerophyte & halophyte), soaring sun, pests, diseases and desert storm. Attract insects, flies and other wildlife by the attraction of white flowers. The camels run to the plant to eat for its high salts contents. The camel keepers like to feed the camels before racing.
  • Covered with white hairs, leaves dark green
  • Flowers in dense double rows (without fragrance)
  • Fruit appearing as a round whiteberry
  • Flowering practically throughout the year.
  • Common Name: Turnsole, Heliotrope

The shrub has some herbal and medicinal values and the desert dwellers had been using it for different health ailments. I would certainly keep struggling on the documentation of the traditional knowledge about the shrub but I have found very good reference (scientific) from literature which tell about the antioxidant value and anti-cancer agent. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29430949/


The shrub is a key flora of the desert, an option hope for the desert revitalization and enriching drylands with the dark green flora. It guarantees food for the livestock, animals and wildlife in the desert ecosystems. It can be a very good and round the year flowering flora for the lawns in the urban areas. The herbal value can be a pharmacy in the future. The traditional practitioners recommend it feeding the camels before work or race. Please help me in identifying (further details, especially native traditional knowledge) and supporting my research work as it is for the wellbeing of desert, livestock, and humanity. Though I have found some information from native ethnoecologists and google but I still need help to sort it out. https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/12/15/please-help-taxonomic-identification-of-the-deserts-shrub/

How Citrullus flora fixes the sand dunes?

The citrullus is a source of food for the wildlife in the desert and the wildlife know the importance and the value of the food provided by the bushes. They eat everything growing in the deserts, some animal eat one and avoid the other but as a main picture, all plants are consumable. Citrullus might be very bitter and poisonus for human but a food of choice for the goats, camels, rodents and the birds. Also, such flora is home to the unique and well adapted fauna of the desert. https://arkbiodiv.com/2020/11/19/enjoy-desert-exploration-with-me/

The Ethnovets in the remote areas use the fruits of the four Mellon for the treatment of the animals as well. https://ethnobiomed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1746-4269-9-84 https://ethnobiomed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1746-4269-6-16

The highly important flora of the desert is giving a panoramic view to the sand during sunset.
Beautiful sunset time in Alain, a beautiful view of the desert’s flora

The seeds of the plant (citrullus) are very good source of food for the rodents. You will always find the burrows of the rodents in the Citrullus wine deep in the desert.

You can see many plants (mainly citrulus) are visible spreading on the sand dunes. They fix the sand dunes and halt them to not extant further.
You can see many plants (mainly citrullus) are visible spreading on the sand dunes to not extant further.
Citrullus might be very bitter and poisonus for human but a food of choice for the goats, camels, rodents and the birds. Also, such flora is home to the unique and well adapted fauna of the desert.
A close view of the citrullus plant, halting the sand to spread by fabricating a carpet of the shoot on the sand.
Citrullus might be very bitter and poisonus for human but a food of choice for the goats, camels, rodents and the birds. Also, such flora is home to the unique and well adapted fauna of the desert.
See the resilient power of citrulus in the desert. They can tolerate a very arid conditions of the desert.