Alhagi pseudalhagi (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Tithymalus turczaninowii
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Alhagi pseudalhagi (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Ammodendron conollyi
Alhagi pseudalhagi
Alhagi pseudalhagi
Alhagi pseudalhagi
Alhagi pseudalhagi
Alhagi pseudalhagi collected by farmers to feed cattle (Karnabchol)

Alhagi pseudalhagi (MB) Desv.

Local name:

  • Russian: Верблюжья колючка ложная (верблюжья колючка обыкновенная), янтак, Янтак южный - verbljuž'ja koljučka ložnaja
  • Uszbek: Yantok, Cokhta yantok
  • Turkmen: Yannak
  • Kazakh: Dzhantak

Chromosome number: 2n = 16 (Grif unpublished data; Titova 1935; Fedorov 1969).

Description and morphology: Perennial herbaceous plant (height 50–100 cm) with numerous thorny branches and extensive pivotal root system. Life span 7–25 years. Root system grows to depth of more than 2 m and extends 8–15 m in all directions. Plants spread rapidly by vigorous rhizomes. Rhizomes at depth 1.5 m produce new shoots and deep vertical roots at about 1.0–1.5 m intervals. Stem: glabrous, greenish, longitudinally ridged and highly branched, with the leaf axil of nearly every node supporting an ascending leafless branchlet (2–5 cm long), tipped with a thorn (about 5 mm long). Leaves: alternate, petiolate, sparse, simple thick, leathery, elliptic or obovate, oblonglanceolate, unpaired parted with stipules (about 1 mm long). Upper leaf surface glabrous (sometimes sparsely hairy) and covered with minute red dots. Lower leaf surface sparsely covered with hairs. Flowers: bisexual; pentamerous, short-stalked, arranged alternately along each thorn branchlet axis, pea-like, pink or purple to crimson; sepals persistent, fused and cup-like, with small sub-equal teeth. Inflorescence: fewflowered (1–3, rarely to 6) assembled in lax axillary racemes; 10 stamens with bases of 9 filaments accreted into a tube around style and one free. Anthers ellipsoidal-oblong; opening by longitudinal, sometimes apical, cracks. Pollen grain 2 or 3-celled, ovate-ellipsoidal, 3 pores. Ovary apocarpous, sub-sessile, many ovulate. Style filiform, up-curved, glabrous; stigmas head-like, long papillous. Ovule anatropous, crassi-nucellate, bitegmic.

Reproduction: Sexual and vegetative (rhizomes). Entomophilous, rarely self-pollinating plant. Parthenocarpy. Flowering: May–July. Fruit maturation: August–September. Fruit: indehiscent lomentum, woody, polyspermous legume (pod 2.5–3.8 cm long, 0.3 cm wide), reddish-brown, constricted between seeds, slender, often curved and tipped with a small spine. Seed: 5– 8 (about 3 mm long, 2.5 mm wide), yellowish or greenish-brown with dark mottling, reniform, ovate-orbicular, smooth textured with large, erect embryo, surrounded with endosperm. Seed coats firm, brilliant, multi-cellular with retiform sculpture. Soft- and hard-coated (about 86%) seeds are produced. Dormancy Af type. Dark-sensitive. Field germination: 9–12%; laboratory germination: 34–38%. Optimal temperatures and soil depth for germination is near 27 °C and 1 cm respectively. Scarification or sulphuric acid treatment (28–30 °C) for 1–1.5 hours significantly increases germination. Passing through a herbivore’s digestive tract appears to stimulate germination. Seed viability 2 to several years.

Pastoral importance: One of the most valuable forage plants for camels, Karakul sheep, lambs and cattle all year round. Young stems, leaves, fruits and seeds are considered a fattening feed. Fruits are eaten by large herbivores, especially cattle and horses. Collected intensively by farmers and livestock owners for haymaking (winter feed) and silage at flowering time; used as part or pure concentrate granular feed. Hay is considered to be as good as the best cereal straw. Expected yield is about 0.06–0.20 t DM/ha; 0.35–0.40 t DM/ha in favourable years, or when growing on a high water table.

Fodder value: At flowering contains (% DM): protein 13; fat 4.1; nitrogen-free extract 44; cellulose 30; fibre 6.4. Fodder value approximately 33 FU and 4 kg digestible protein/100 kg DM.

Economic interest: Fodder. Medicinal plant used for regulation of digestive properties or treatment for respiratory illness. Good sandfixation and wind-break plant. Collected for fuel and construction materials. Roots contain rubber, sugar, tannins, resins and wax.

Habitat: Xero-phreatophyte. Present in sandy desert and foothill zones, moist wasteland, on banks of dry river beds and low wet lands, and abandoned cultivated land. Often grows on heavy soils. Tolerates some salinity and a saline water table.

Distribution: Central and East Asia, southern part of Russia, Iran and eastern Mediterranean region.