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Pakistan | Family List | Cynomoriaceae | Cynomorium

Cynomorium coccineum subsp. coccineum

Root parasite producing erect dark brownish red fleshy stalks up to 30 cm tall and c. 20 mm in diameter, bearing numerous triangular-lanceolate scale leaves. Inflorescence terminal, club-shaped spike of 1-4 cymosely arranged flower clusters subtended by triangular scaly bracts. Male flowers c. 4 mm long, filaments reddish brown, tepals 1.5-4 mm long, 0.4-0.5 mm broad; anther versatile. Female flowers c. 3 mm long; style c. 2 mm long. Fruit globose, 1 seeded.

Fl. Per.: March-May

Type: "Habitat in Sicilie, Melita, Mauritania parasiticum terrestre", Herb. Linn. 1084/1 (LINN).

A rare (probably under-explored) root parasite on Tamarix, Calligonum, Zygophyllum, Haloxylon etc. in sandy saline soil, c. 1200 m above sea level; Distribution: Portugal, Spain, Italy, Sicily, Malta, Sasdegna, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This family is being recorded for the first time from Pakistan.

Conventionally, one genus and two species are recognized in the family. J. Leonard recognises only one species with two subspecies, Cynomorium coccineum L. subsp. coccineum and subsp. songaricum (Rupr.) J Leonard. The two subspecies may be recognised on the basis of the colour of the filament, breadth of the male tepal and occurrence in different phytogeographical regions. Subspecies coccineum has reddish brown filaments in the male flowers, tepals are 0.2-0.5 (-0.8) mm broad and it is distributed in the mediterraneo and subomni-Saharo-Sindian region. Subspecies songaricum has entirely white filaments, tepals are 0.4-0.5 mm broad and it is distributed in Irano-Turanian region. In the present treatment we have followed J. Leonard (l.c.).

The stem is eaten raw in many Arab countries and used as a condiment. It has been used in stomach pain and as styptic and astringent. At one time its use in Malta to procure abortions and remedy for dysentery was highly valued (C. Jeffery in C. C. Towns. & Guest, Fl. Iraq 4(1): 414. 1980).


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