Calligonum caput-medusae (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Calligonum arborescens
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Calligonum caput-medusae (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Calligonum eriopodum
Calligonum caput-medusae
Calligonum caput-medusae


Calligonum caput-medusae Schrenk

Local name:

  • Russian: Кандым голова Медузы, жузгун - kandym golova Meduzy, žuzgun
  • Uzbek: Djuzgun, Kyzyl Kondim
  • Kazakh: Dzhuzgun

Chromosome number: 2n = 36 (Aleksandrova and Soskov 1968).

Description and morphology: Perennial shrub (height up to 2 m, sometimes as small tree, up to 3–4 m), microphylous, strongly branched, with light grey or pink-green bark. Life span 25–30 years. Strong root system extending to depth 2 m, superficial lateral roots stretching 10–30 m. Leaves: small, awl-shaped, at base webbed-bordered. Flowers: bisexual; single, in leaf axils. Perianth simple, pentamerous, nonaccreted; purple, margins bordered with wide white strip.

Reproduction: Sexual (seedling/transplanting). Flowering: middle of April. Fruit maturation: May–June. Fruit: ovoid or nut-form, covered by long branched and flexible bristle (10–15 mm diameter), yellow or bright red, hard impermeable indehiscent that delays germination. Begins fruiting at 3–5 years old. Seed: erect embryo, surrounded by endosperm. Dormancy A2–B2 type. Seeds require stratification (1–2 °C) for 30–50 days. Chemical treatment of fruits with concentrated sulphuric acid for 4–8 hours increases germination rate to 60%.

Pastoral importance: Sand-fixing, fuel and ornamental plant. One of the best plants for sand dune environment. In spring and beginning of summer, green branches and fruits consumed by all livestock; in autumn and winter, fruits and old green stems preferred. Useful plant for range improvement or creation of long-term pastures in sandy deserts. Can be grazed in the same year of establishment. Expected yield in the first year is about 1.5 t DM/ha and up to 2.1 t DM/ha in the second year.

Fodder value: New spring shoots contain 16% protein and are rich in sugar. Plant organs contain 10–13% tannins. Forage value is about 72 FU/100 kg DM.

Habitat: Psammo-xerophyte. Widely distributed on shifting and fixed sands of deserts and semi-deserts.

Distribution: Central Asia and Kazakhstan, North-western China. Introduced into Saharan North Africa.