Friday, March 25, 2016

Pallenis maritima (syn. Asteriscus maritimus, Odontospermum maritimum)

Low plant of Mediterranean coastal rocks, flowering Mar-Jun. Very common here on the Alicantine littoral. 

Pallenis maritima

The plant has been shuffled around from genus to genus. When I first wrote this post I titled it Asteriscus maritimus . Then I discovered (in A.W. Taylor's Wild Flowers of Spain and Portugal, 1972) that the plant was also known as Odontospermum maritimum . And now I've learned that the currently preferred name is Pallenis maritima . 

It has a N. African desert relative called Pallenis hierochuntica which is a "resurrection plant"; that is, a plant that can survive indefinitely in a dormant dessicated state, and is brought to life by water. (The technical term is hygrochastic.) 

"Hierochuntica" means "of Jericho" and connects it with another better-known resurrection plant, the cruciferous "Rose of Jericho" (Anastatica hierochuntica), often sold to Christian pilgrims as a fascinating novelty souvenir of their trip to the Holy Land and specifically the oasis-city that is one of oldest inhabited places on earth. The idea of the "resurrection", from the plant's point of view, is to wake up and release the seeds at the moment when conditions are ideal for germination. The plant is celebrated in Jewish and Islamic folklore and traditional medicine. 



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