Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Maerua oblongifolia (Forsskal) A. Rich. in Guill. & Pers., Fl. Seneg. Tent. 1: 32, t. 6. 1847. Capparis oblongifolia Forsskal, Fl. Aegypt.-Arab. 99. 1775. Niebuhria arenaria DC., Prodr. 1: 244. 1824. M. arenaria (DC.) Hook. f. & Thomson in Fl. Brit. India 1: 171. 1872 (incl. vars. glabra & scabra).

Guj.: Hemkand, Kala-pinjola, Pinjola; Hindi: Potiakand, Wagboti; Kan.: Kadu-thottimara, Nelasakregadde; Mar.: Kaba, Kalwari; Punj.: Pilwani; Raj.: Orapa; Tam.: Bhumichakkarai, Mochukkodi, Mulmurandai..

Shrubs, scandent, ascending up to 4 m; twigs, leaves and inflorescence puberulous to glabrous; bark smooth, pale brown. Leaves ovate, elliptic-oblong or lanceolate, attenuate at base, obtuse, retuse and mucronate at apex, 2.5 - 8 x 0.8 - 3.5 cm, coriaceous, glaucous, drying pale green; lateral veins .5 - 6 pairs, distinct; petioles terete, 6 - 9 mm long. Corymbs,dense-flowered, rarely flowers solitary, axillary. Flowers white or greenish-yellow, 2 - 2.5 cm across, mildly fragrant; pedicels 0.3 - 1.5 cm long, glabrous; bracts small, ovate, acuminate, rigid. Sepals petaloid, united near base or up to one-third from base; calyx-tube 3 - 8 mm long, lined by a tubular truncate disc; lobes elliptic-oblong, ca 1.4 x 0.6 cm, glabrous or sometimes softly pubescent outside, pubescent inside, villous along margins. Petals on cup-shaped disc, ovate-Ianceolate to obovate, acuminate, undulate along margins, ca 7 x 2.5 mm, greenish yellow. Stamens 20 - 26; filaments up to 2 cm long, inserted on ca 5 mm long torus, greenish or white, brownish or purple on drying; anthers basifixed, ca 3 mm long. Gynophore 1.5 - 2.5 cm long; ovary cylindrical, 4 - 6 mm long, ca 1 mm thick, glabrous; stigma sessile. Berries.5 - 12 cm long, glabrous, pale brownish, cylindric or moniliform, often twisted and knotted, constricted with 2 - 4 alternating rows of globular 1-seeded sections; seeds globose, .5 - 6 mm across, minutely echinate-tuberculate, brown.

Fl. Jan. - March, Aug. - oct.; Fr. Feb. - May, Sept. - Dec.

Distrib. India: Common in semiarid sandy tracts and scrub jungles from sea level to 600 m, scattered and often associated with Capparis sepiaria. Throughout the country, except Jammu & Kashmir and hill states of N.E. India.

Thailand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Arabia, Middle East and Africa.

Notes. Leaves serve as fodder for camels and goats. Ripe fruits are rarely seen, since they are eaten by birds and squirrels, which cause the seed dispersal.

An extremely variable species with reference to size, shape, texture, indumentum and venation of leaves. In Indian plants leaves are never as narrow and linear as in African populations and besides venation in quite distinct. Though the species is common in peninsular India, no specimens could be seen from Kerala.

It has a diploid chromosome number of 2n = 20 (T.S. Raghavan & Venkatasubban in Cytologia 11: 319. 1941).


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