Scientific classification of the shrub
Heaven of Zygophyllum qataranse in Alain Abudhabi.
It is always fun walking and exploring the treasures and beauties of the desert. I love to walk and explore in the desert. Desert is the ocean of the sand but there is no Shark and no Stingrays. You can find beautiful and unique flora, fauna, sand dunes, songs of the air blowing, and sometimes a desert storm. Desert is a paradise but you have to choose a good time/weather to roam in the paradise. We have 3 months to go in the desert and inhale long breaths in the open and wide horizons of the desert.
In the desert, nature roams, nothing is managed or organized by human beings. The blow of the air, both the intensity and the direction decides the shapes of the dunes and the sands. You will feel like walking among the humps and necks of the camels as some dunes really look like the humps and the others like the neck of the camels. Nature has designed the camel in tune with the desert’s landscape. The colors and shapes of the sand dunes are much similar to the camels and vise versa. https://youtu.be/JaK5AEIy81c
Nature is wise and perfect, had learned to cope with climatic conditions under challenging conditions. The leaf, small fibrous hair, special barks, unique roots, and strong stress physiology make the desert flora and fauna fittest. Calitropis is one of the eccentric flora of the desert – surviving the arid conditions with smiles and flowers. The healthier and fresh shine of the leaves and flowers attract the attention of the desert’s travelers, especially when the visitor is an explorer.
Many people know Calitropis a cause of poison, unedible and useless but to me, it is an asset of biodiversity, a treasure of healing molecules, and food for some animals like goats, deers, desert rodents, and some beetles and other insects. The flowers are a rich source of nectar both for the sunbirds and the bees along with other insects.
Zygo is not only resilient, surviving aridity and salts but also responded very positively to the microflora in the livestock’s saliva, especially camels. The flora browzed by the camels is more healthy and shiny than those who grew tall and safe from the grazing. The Zygo is very much in a symbiotic relationship with the animals/livestock, attracting livestock (defecating and urinating around the flora) for soil fertility and igniting responsive physiology to keep itself healthy and stronger. I have found a unique fact always that the camels defecate and urinate around this flora, maybe eating Zygo stimulates camels’ GIT.
In the picture below you can clearly differentiate the difference between the browsed and protected parts of the Zygophyllum qatarense.
Zygophyllum qatarense provides not only food for livestock and wild animals but also provides life support to birds and insects. It is a source of water, food, and minerals, especially salts. As discussed in the above paragraph, there is a strong and positive symbiotic relationship between the camels and Zygos.
Citrullus or Gourd melon always makes a fence against the flowing/moving sands and the dunes. It is really amazing, exploring the worth of the desert melon.
Desert biodiversity, ranging from flora to fauna, and the detritivores and micro-organisms are unique and important, playing pivotal roles as biotic players of the desert ecosystems. I have been exploring the role of Zygophyllum qatarense in the desert for many years and share interesting facts from time to time.
Sometimes, it makes very amazing structures with a blend of flora and sand. Later other types of flora grow there and the rodents and other wildlife make their home in the Citrullus to get protection from hyper-aridity and the desert storm. Though I have no references and no proof I’m quite sure that the rodents and rats feel protected from the eagles’ eyes in the Citrullus neighborhood. The Eagles can’t prey on the rodents in the Citrullus wine (as rodents make a home there and eat the seeds of flora) also dump the seeds in their burrows and help some of them to germinate again, a very unique symbiotic relationship.
I have learned much about the camels, their preferences, and the desert’s flora. Zygophyllum has a very bitter taste and saltish plant because of its’ high salts contents and some level of alkaloids (which depress the appetite of the animals, though camels have higher tolerable levels for alkaloids). Such biochemical molecules in the bushes like Zygophyllum sp. depress the appetite as well as poisonous for some types of livestock. Producing such molecules (alkaloids, saponin, etc) is the strategy of the plants to save their race from the grazing animals, therefore Zygophylum qatarense is browsed by camels to a certain level but not minimized to the ground level.
As mentioned before that Zygo is rich in water, salts, and other molecules which collective a very saltish and bitter taste to the bush, and many types of animals/livestock avoid consuming this bush but the camels love to eat it. I have named this plant as the camel ice-cream species because the camel eats lesser quantity but with very much desire. https://arkbiodiv.com/2017/12/21/part-2-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
Here in the below link; you can see the explanation by the author in a youtube video, how this bush is surveying, and pose a panoramic view of the desert. https://youtu.be/Izc8O6tdj5A
Zygophyllum is very strong, spread with many trunks, with deep roots, can sustain livelihood in the desert, and provides an opportunity of a healthy desert ecosystem as the bushes like Zygo are providing shelter, food, and even water and salts to the wildlife in the wilderness of the desert. https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/11/17/desert-ecology-floral-survival-and-camel-grazing-impacts-and-the-future-hopes/