Australia > All Weeds > Camelthorn

Camel Thorn

Alhagi maurorum

Origin: Native from western Europe to central Asia


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Family: Fabaceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Origin: Native from western Europe to central Asia.

Habitat: Edges of ditches, waste and often saline places. Grows in dry barren places.

Edibility Rating: 2 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Perennial shrub to 1 (rarely to 1.5) m high.Young branches hairy, older branches hairless, small branches off main branches (branchlets) with yellow-tipped spines. Leaves few, elliptic to obovate, dark green, 0.5–3 cm long, 0.2–1.4 cm wide, glandular above, shortly and softly hairy below. Seedpod 0.8–3 cm long, to 3.5 mm wide, yellow to red-brown. Seeds 1–8 per pod, kidney-shaped, smooth, about 3 mm long.
Flowers: In a 1–8 flowered raceme. Flowers 0.6–1.2 cm long, sepals of each flower joined to form a calyx about 3 mm long with small teeth. Flowers spring and summer.The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs). It can fix Nitrogen.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by rigid spiny branchlets 1–4 cm long; leaves simple; flowers pea-like, purplish-red and yellow, stamens 10, in 2 bundles of 5; pod constricted between seeds.

Dispersal: Spread by lateral root growth and pieces, seldom by seed.

Edible Uses

A sweet-tasting manna is exuded from the twigs at flowering time. It is exuded during hot weather according to one report. It contains about 47% melizitose, 26% sucrose, 12% invert sugar. Another manna is obtained from the pods - it is sweet and laxative. Root - cooked. A famine food, it is only used in times of need.

Medicinal Uses

Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Laxative. The whole plant is diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and laxative. An oil from the leaves is used in the treatment of rheumatism. The flowers are used in the treatment of piles.

Other Uses

None known

Notes: Seeds appear to need scarification, for example by passing through a ruminant, before germination. Aerial parts die in autumn and new shoots emerge from roots in spring. Commonly found along drainage lines and in irrigated pasture. Probably introduced to Australia in the early 1900s. Grazed sparingly by stock. Does well under irrigation.


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