Monday, March 8, 2010

APPLE OF SODOM - YELLOW BROOMRAPE - two very special plants in the desert

The Apple of Sodom, Calotropis procera, Tapuach Sdom, תפוח שדום in Hebrew,  Al Oshar in Arabic, is a relatively small tree, native to the Dead Sea and Sodom, which can also be found in Egypt and Yemen. 

The plant is poisonous and raises only to a height of two to six meters.  Its fruit contains a milky bitter liquid and its big long leaves and its rind are used for medical remedies.  

The tree blooms in spring in a very beautiful way and the blossoms grow into hollow green fruit, filled with air, which due to their round shape appear to be similar to apples and look pretty and inviting. But if you stomp on the ripe fruit, it will release a very ugly black dust. I found at Wikipedia a quote from Josephus Flavius on it: " well as the ashes growing in their fruits; which fruits have a color as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them with your hands, they dissolve into smoke and ashes."

Here is a photo taken of the blossoms in the Negev desert at En Gedi this weekend and the photo of the ripe fruit is from last September also in En Gedi, it might as well be the same tree.



If you are driving down to the Dead Sea from Arad at this time of the year you can spot along the road The Yellow Broomrape or Desert Broomrape, Cistanche tubulosa lutea. It is called Yachnuk יחנוק in Hebrew, which comes from the roots of the word chonek, which means to strangle. Lutea is the Latin word for yellow-orange and this is the color of the blossom of this plant. 

It is a parasite without leaves, growing only in the desert and blooming in March/April. It attaches its roots to the roots of a neighboring plant, mostly to broom plants, which can be near or even two or three meters away from it and 'strangles' or 'rapes' it, therefore its name. It is a beautiful sunny golden flower, standing erect like a candle.

The photos of the Yachnuk have been taken this weekend on the road to the Dead Sea by my husband Uri.


veroque said...

איך אתם מוצאים את כל היופי הזה!

glazedOver said...

So exotic! And such odd behavior for a fruit, to crumble into ash and smoke. I've learned something new!

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

Everything about this fruit is exotic, from the blossum to the fruit, to the end result when stomped upon!!! Much like a life!