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Anastatica hierochuntica.jpg
Anastatica hierochuntica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Anastatica
Species: A. hierochuntica
Binomial name
Anastatica hierochuntica

Anastatica or white mustard flower is a monotypic genus with the type species Anastatica hierochuntica. The genus is a member of the family Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae), in the division Magnoliophyta of the class Magnoliopsida. The plant is a small gray annual herb that rarely grows above 15 centimetres (6 in) high, and bears minute white flowers. It is a tumbleweed[1][2][3] and a resurrection plant.[2]

They are commonly called rose of Jericho, and other common names include Jericho rose, true rose of Jericho, Maryam's flower, flower of St Mary, St. Mary's flower, Mary's flower, and white mustard flower.[2] About the name "rose of Jericho", the 16th century herbalist John Gerard is said to have remarked the coiner of the name spoiled it in the mint; for of all plants that have been written of not any are more unlike unto the rose.[4]

This species is not to be confused with Selaginella lepidophylla, sometimes wrongly referred to as "rose of Jericho"[5], or rightly "false rose of Jericho".

Natural history[edit]

Anastatica is found in arid areas in the Middle East and the Sahara Desert, including parts of North Africa and regions of Iran, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Pakistan.[6][7]

Sprouts of Anastatica in water

After the rainy season, the plant dries up, dropping leaves and curling branches into a tight ball, and "hibernates". Within the ball, the fruits remain attached and closed, protecting the seeds and preventing them from being dispersed prematurely. The seeds are very hardy and can remain dormant for years. Wetted again in a later rainy season, the ball uncurls and the plant wakes up from its dormant state, which causes the capsular fruits to open (dehisce) to disperse the seeds. If water is sufficient, the dispersed seeds germinate within hours.

A fraction of the seeds are dispersed in the vicinity of the parent plant by raindrops hitting a spoon-like appendix on the seeds. The seeds have a sticky coat that helps them adhere to the soil,[3] but they also may be carried downstream by surface wash.[3][6] However, seeds swept downstream do not survive.[6]

The process of curling and uncurling is completely reversible and can be repeated many times. The ability of the plant to do this is attributed to the presence of trehalose,[8] a disaccharide sugar involved in several mechanisms of cryptobiosis. Although the rehydrated plant sometimes is described as putting out new leaves, flowers, and fruits,[9] this is disputed; instead, the seeds may sometimes germinate and sprout new plants while still seated in the fruit on the dead parent plant.

Anastatica has been described as the most famous tumble weed.[10] Once dry, the ball is said to become detached and is dispersed by wind. This tumbleweed habit has been interpreted as a mechanism of avoiding burial in dunes.[11] However, Anastatica may possess this habit only in the literature,[10] or tumble only rarely, if uprooted by accident.[12]

In Media[edit]

This plant was shown in BBC's Africa's fifth episode.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ William Francis Ganong (1921). A Textbook of botany for colleges. MacMillan Co. p. 604. page 359
  2. ^ a b c James A. Duke; Peggy-Ann K. Duke; Judith L. duCellie (2007). Duke's Handbook of Medicinal Plants of the Bible. CRC Press. p. 552. ISBN 0-8493-8202-5. pages 36-37
  3. ^ a b c G. E. Wickens (1998). Ecophysiology of Economic Plants in Arid and Semi-arid Lands. Springer. p. 343. ISBN 3-540-52171-2. pages 204-205
  4. ^ Francis Blake Atkinson; Hallam Hawksworth (1921). The Strange Adventures of a Pebble. C. Scribner's Sons. p. 296. page 178
  5. ^ Quisquis (1886). "Tumble-weeds". Botanical Gazette. 11: 68. doi:10.1086/325923.
  6. ^ a b c Anastatica hierochuntica in Flora of Pakistan @
  7. ^ Friedman, Jacob; Zipporah Stein (March 1980). "The Influence of Seed-Dispersal Mechanisms on the Dispersion of Anastatica Hierochuntica (Cruciferae) in the Negev Desert, Israel". The Journal of Ecology. 68 (1): 43–50. doi:10.2307/2259242. JSTOR 2259242.
  8. ^ G. E. Wickens (1998). Ecophysiology of Economic Plants in Arid and Semi-arid Lands. Springer. p. 343. ISBN 3-540-52171-2. pages 121-122
  9. ^ Baynes, Thomas Spencer; Kellogg, Day Otis; Smith, William Robertson (1897). The Encyclopædia Britannica. pp. 175–176. pages 175-176
  10. ^ a b O. Appel; I. A. Al-Shehbaz (2003). "Cruciferae". In K. Kubitzki; C. Bayer. The families and genera of vascular plants. 5: Flowering Plants: Dicotyledons: Malvales, Capparales and Non-betalain Caryophyllales. Springer. pp. 75–174. ISBN 3-540-42873-9. page 83
  11. ^ L. J. Templin (1890). "Distribution of plants". The Kansas City Review of Science and Industry. 3: 612–614.
  12. ^ W. F. Ganong (1896). "An outline of phytobiology". Bulletin of the Natural History Society of New Brunswick. 13: 3–26, page 1 errata. page 16