Androcymbium palaestinum

A little bit of housekeeping before today’s entry. I had the spam-filtering on comments set too high last week for a brief time, so a few of you used to having your comments appear immediately were sent in to the moderation queue. With a bit of tweaking, I’ve resolved that issue (and published your comments).

Today’s photographs and write-up are courtesy once again of Jackie Chambers, UBC Botanical Garden horticulturist. Thanks, Jackie.

Androcymbium palaestinum is a cormous perennial found in the deserts and semi-arid areas of Egypt, Israel and Jordan. A rosette of grey-green leaves emerges before the flowers; these leaves are wider at base and narrow towards the tip. They generally range in length from 5-10cm and can reach 3cm at the widest point. These rosettes are very low-growing, typically found tucked into rocky outcrops or hugging the dry ground (additional photographs via Flora of Israel).

Flowers emerge in December-February and sit in the middle of the leafy rosette. The white flowers often have reddish-purple stripes and can reach 2-5 cm in diameter. However, flower size and shape can vary depending on location. For example, compare these flowers growing out in the open with these flowers squeezing out of a rocky outcrop.

A closer inspection of the flower structure reveals that that the stamen is attached to the petal, and that at the base of each stamen is a pool of nectar. The nectar is most likely a reward for pollinators. For more on the intricate flower structure of Androcymbium see these illustrations. While this site deals with another species, Androcymbium rechingeri, the detailed botanical drawings give a good idea of general floral structure.

Research suggests that Androcymbium palaestinum contains the alkaloid colchicine. This substance was originally found in Colchicum, and has medicinal properties. It has also been used in plant breeding for inducing polyploidy. Colchicine inhibits the separation of chromosome pairs during meiosis, resulting in gametes that contain double the amount of chromosomes (diploid rather than haploid). For many living things this condition would be fatal, but in plants polyploidy often results in larger, more robust individuals (the subject of colchicine is also mentioned in this previous Botany Photo of the Day).

Androcymbium palaestinum
Androcymbium palaestinum

10 responses to “Androcymbium palaestinum”

  1. Sandyminz4

    Being a Master Gardener makes this site the highlight of my day. Even if I don’t understand much of the technical jargon, seeing the pics is wonderful. Thanks Daniel and to all your contributors and helpers, also.

  2. elizabeth a airhart

    the sun will soon be setting here
    on the central west coast of florida
    out on the beaches they will count
    down try to see the green line then
    clap as it just simply drops behind
    the horizon
    the pictures are just lovely and the
    links are ever so good thank you
    did you have an april snow shower weekend

  3. Calochilus

    Dear Daniel
    I am somewhat bemused by the note on the email “thank you for subscribing”. I really think the boot is on the other foot. Thank you for co-ordinating such a wonderful and varied resource. It is the source of a wonderful constructive use of time which might be otherwise wasted in mowing lawns and similar fruitless exercises.
    Todays photo and links are tops.I need to win the lottery several times over to fulfil my desire to see all these gems in situ.

  4. Elizabeth Revell

    Many’s the time I’ve dished out Colchicine to an unhappy gout sufferer, and I’ve never associated it with the Colchicum plants – thank you for another wonderful connection!

  5. Mrs Ward

    Love you forum.

  6. kelly herzberger

    I am excited about receiving your information. The pictures are breathtaking.

  7. Douglas Smith

    I wish there was a common name given. I like to tag some of these pictures and use them as a screen saver. This is a daily treat to come here and see what’s new.

  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Hi Douglas, I suspect the reason that Jackie didn’t give one is that it may not have one (at least in English). If I were to invent one, I’d suggest Palestine androcymbium (for as much as that helps!)

  9. noune

    j’ai une plante qui ressemble à votre androcymbium , mais elle habite le sol argileux humide de la cote atlantique marocain,

  10. Gottfried Milkuhn

    Dear friends,
    I am sowing some Androcymbium species on the last year and they are not germinated – also not in this year.
    Who has experience with the sowing? Germinate fresh seeds only?
    I am happy to your answer.

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