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Retama raetam

Retama raetam
Retama raetam

Today's photographs and write-up are supplied by Jackie Chambers, a UBC Botanical Garden horticulturist. Thanks, Jackie! As an aside, Jackie is presenting on Wildflowers of Israel and Jordan in early February.

The small, white flowers of Ratema raetem (or white weeping broom) measure between 8-10mm long, and are produced in late winter and early spring. They exhibit the banner, wing and keel petal structure that is typical of the pea family. These flowers emit a sweet, honey fragrance. It was the smell of honey in the middle of the desert that first drew my attention to this plant...that and the fact that it was practically the only other living thing in the vicinity!

Retama raetam is adapted to survive extreme drought conditions. Its roots go deep into the earth, while the slender branches reduce the amount of surface area exposed to dry desert air. While it does produce very small leaves, they are quickly dropped in order to conserve water. The majority of photosynthesis is carried out by the green photosynthetic stems. For more information on plant adaptations to desert conditions please see the article Plant Adaptation in the Extreme Desert in Israel by Dr. Ori Fragman-Sapir.

Retama raetam is endemic to North Africa, the Middle East (Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon) and Sicily in southern Italy. It was introduced to Australia as an ornamental in the 1840s and has since naturalized. It is on an Alert List for Potential Weed Species in South Western Australia (PDF).


Beauty everywhere, if we only stop to look . . .

. . . to SEE, rather.

How unfortunate for Aussies that it's became an invasive. If it's edible, with honey flavor, it might ease the weeding process. :)

I was going to ask...is it edible?

Retama raetam - Z9 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths

The flowers today are beautiful. I was really interested in how it drops is leaves and how it photosynthesis with the green stems. The link was very interesting from the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.
Thank you,

It was a revelation to see the flowers and then the plant - a great reminder to get "up-close and personal" with plants to truly appreciate them.

Lovely. Looks like a tough plant too - no wonder there's an invasiveness alert.

For,lo!the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
the flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land

I too was struck by the beauty of the flowers and then the general non-descript nature of the plant from a distance. And wow, the background looks pretty sterile. I am thankful for the verdant green here in the eastern U.S., but also grateful to see plants from other areas.

Here is Retama monosperma in the entrance garden at Strybing in San Francisco.

The plant is like a living waterfall of graceful, slender arching to pendant stems covered in pea-like flowers.

This shot really gives you an great look at whole-plant photosynthesis in a large shrub/small tree.

cool plant.

I just want to say that if what's been happening in January so far - a mix of old and new and some by Daniel and some by others and some days none at all - is the "new" POTD, it's been just fine. If missing out a few days makes it seem more manageable, I'm all for it.

I live in Tucson, AZ - also a desert habitat. Do you know if this broom tree is any relation to the broom bush which grows as a weed here and goes to seed much like cottonwood with white fluffy stuff blowing everywhere, especially the week before Thanksgiving, when we're trying to keep our decks clean for entertaining?!?

This plant is also mentioned in the Bible. I came about this page while lookig for "Retama" in spanish. Look for Jeremiah 48:6. Names change in different versions and year. But the spanish does indeed brought me a what this verse describes as a plant from the desert.

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