Arabic name: Hadaq, Jafnah
Common name: Purslane-leaved aizoon
Family name: Aizoceae
Found: Arabia, Africa and Canary Islands
Photo Credits: Jan Vandorpe (flickr.com) and Sarr Cat and Suvabratadhar (Wikipedia)
Aizoon canariense is a succulent annual, suitable for a range of soils. It adapts to acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils. Stems are woody and branches zig-zag, radiating from the centre, often growing in a star shape. Leaves are alternating, fleshy, and bright green, tapering to a base with slightly pointed top and curly edges. Its flowers grow up to 0.4-0.6 cm, in leaf nodes, yellow-green in color and surrounded by five triangular hairy backed sepals. The seed of an Aizoon canariense is 0.1 cm long and kidney-shaped. It grows as a small-scale ground-cover which spreads outward by means of seeds over time. This plant can withstand extended dry periods and survive drought without the need for watering. It can tolerate sun, shade, and dry soils, but looks its best when given adequate light levels and water, and ideally should be grown outdoors in full sun.
With its extreme drought resistance, Aizoon canariense needs only minimal care to reward you with its attractive texture. Good air movement is important for minimizing pest and disease risks, and avoiding excessive humidity in cool winter conditions is important to successfully growing in the nursery environment.
The leaves of Aizoon canariense were previously eaten by local Qatari people, as a green salad or for porridge and soup. Local desert dwelling tribes across the Middle East grind and cook the seeds to provide a meal similar to soup. This species is also known to be used as feed for domestic animal such as camels. This plant was eaten during the famine periods in Africa and it was commonly used as an edible and medicinal plant.
Aizoon canariense has been defined as a new source of some important essential fatty acids. It was also considered as a potential source of anti-oxidants.
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