Plant Diversity of Saudi Arabia

Flora and Vegetation of Tabuk Province

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The Tabuk Province, located at the northern side of Saudi Arabia, is significant both in terms of its unique topography and plant diversity. The flora of Tabuk Province reflects a combination of plants belonging to three or four phytogeographical regions, such as Saharo-Arabian, Mediterranean, Somalia-Masai and Irano-Turanian. The topography of Tabuk region comprised of northern Tihama on its wesstern side and part of the northern Hijza Mountains (Madyan Mountain) and a high plateau (Hismah Plateau) on its eastern side. Topographically, the area is divided into coastal salt marsh, coastal plains, foothills, Mountains and plateau. Coastal salt marsh, an area extends from 5 meters to about 500 m, is characterized by brackish and loose sands and dominated by salt bushes comprised of Zygophylllum album, Z. decumbens, Z. coccineum, Limonium axillare, Suaeda vermiculata, Aeluropus lagopoides and occasionally with isolated stands of Nitraria retusa and Tamarix senegalensis. These communities are associating with small and big populations of Juncus rigidus, Sedlieitzia rosmarinus, Halocnemum strobilaceum, Halopeplis perfoliata along with shrubby Suaeda monoica, and and occasionally with grasses such as Panicum turgidum, Pennisetum divisum, etc. Estuaries are devoid of mangroves. However, patches of fragmented populations of Avicennia marina can be seen at some locations, bordering with Madina Province and in a few islands away from coast.


Unlike the coastal sabkhas dominated by halophytic communities, coastal plains are dominated by glycophytes on vast open plains covered by non-saline wind-blown sand and on wadis covered by accumulating sand and gravels eroded from crystalline rocks through the action of flash floods. Undulating wadis generally cut this area.  Vegetation on this terrain mainly concentrated along the edges of these wadis, is dominated by Hyphaene thebaica, Maerua crassifolia, Moringa peregrina, Vachellia flava, V. tortilis, etc. In areas where the soil contains excess moisture, large trees such as V. raddiana could be found as occasional plant along with Capparis decidua and Maerua crassifolia. Vegetation of the nearby hillocks is restricted to runnels, gullies and rocky crevices where sand and propagules accumulate during run off. Dominating natives of these areas are Aerva javanica, Capparis cartilaginea, Crotalaria aegyptia, Convolvulus hystrix, Fagonia mollis, Iphiona scabra, Ochradenus baccatus, Pulicaria undulata, etc. Significant number of perennial plants and annuals appear in these areas after a showers which makes entire slopes green during spring.  Open plains are mainly covered by dwarf shrublands, dominated by Leptadenia pyrotecynica, Vachellia tortilis, Haloxylon salicornicum, Senna italica, etc. Nebkhas are common along these open plains, where moving sand accumulate at the base of species such as Calligonum comosum, Haloxylon salicornicum, Panicum turgidum and Rhazya stricta to form a convex mound of sand or a dune hummock. Vegetation of the open plain is generally sparse, except during spring where an array of ephemerals appears immediately after a scanty shower.

Foothills and low altitude mountains are composed of different forms metamorphosed sediments, granites and volcanic rocks. Foothills are generally barren looking and devoid of any perennial plant cover during summer months. However, in some parts, dwarf shrub-land consists of Haloxylon salicornicum with occasional stands of Lycium shawii dominates the foot-hills while Vachellia woodlands dominate the wadi summit. In spring, the entire area changes to green due to the presence of ephemerals and new growth on dwarf perennials. The ravines and gullies along the lower part of the hilly areas are dominated by Fagonia mollis, Echinops glaberrimus, Iphiona mucronata, Lavandula coronopifolia,  Ochradenus baccatus, Otostegia fruticosa, Pulicaria undulata, Stachys aegyptiaca., etc.. Majority of rocky slopes are covered by large populations of grasses such as Stipagrostis plumosa, the spikes of which often give an off-white appearance to the hillocks.

On the eastern side of the low altitude hillocks and mountains lies the high altitude mountain many of them are as high as 2500 m, such as Jabal Ad Dubbagh, Jabal Lawz and Jabal Al Shaiti. During winter or early spring, these mountains are covered by snow of various depths because of the influence of northern Mediterranean climate. Though the density of vegetation on these mountains is generally poor and several populations are highly fragmented, many of these mountains are a treasure house and plant diversity hot spots holding several Mediterranean and Irano-Turanian elements. Species such as Astragalus echinus ssp. arabica, Atraphaxis spinosa, Launaea spinosa, Nepeta sheilae, Origanum syriacum, Astragalus echinus, Launaea spinosa, Prunus korshinskyi, Thymus decussates, Tulipia biflora are so far recorded from the runnels of these high altitude slopes. The status of the population of the flagship species, Juniperus phoenicea is in a highly impoverished state due to poor regeneration, a phenomenon attributed to prolonged drought or due to unsustainable use of these mountains’ natural resources such as wood cutting . This population is highly fragmented with isolated individual plants with very old trunks, reminding of luxurious woodland of the past. North facing slopes of Jabal Lauz are dominated by Prunus korshinskyi along with Atraphaxis spinosa, Astragalus echinus ssp. arabica, Allyssum subspinosum, origanum syriacum. On the southern sides, particularly Jabal Dubbagh, high altitude of the mountains support the growth of relic Juniperus phoenicea populations along with dwarf shrub land communities such as Artemisia seiberi, Tanacetum santolinoides, Pulicaria glutinosa, Atraphaxis spinosa, Dodonaea angustifolia, Varthemia Montana, Phlomis brachyodon, Teucrium leucocladum, etc.

The eastern part of Tabuk Province, a high altitude plateau, contains wadis and high raise buttes and sandy plains. Among the wadis, Wadi Dessah is a prominent one in terms of species diversity.  . The wadi is long with sand covered wadi beds and protected on both sides by red and yellow sand stone pinnacles and butts of various altitudes. It holds significant number of rare/endangered species found refuge along the runnels and gullies of butts. Part of the plateau is a UNESCO world heritage site of sandstone butts surrounded by mobile sand sheets or deep sands. Occasional trees such as Vachellia gerrardii along with shrubs such as Haloxylon persicum, H. salicornicum, Retama raetam, Artemisia monosprema, etc. dominate the sandy habitats. Representative species of deep sands include, Artemisia monosperma, Centropodia forsskalii, Haloxylon persicum, Heliotropium digynum, Moltkiopsis ciliata, Stipagrostis drarii.  Overall, perennial plant cover on large tracts of rangeland is sparse except during spring, where several annuals and shallow rooted bulbous plants appear over large tracts of thin sand covered areas.

Approximately 450 species belonging to 73 families are represented in the area.




Flora of Tabuk Province

Jabal Lauz

Jabal Dubbagh

Jabal Dubbagh

Jabal Dubbagh


Acanthaceae Blepharis ciliaris 
Aizoaceae Aizoon canariense 
Amaranthaceae Aerva javanica 
  Anabasis articulata 
  Anabasis setifera 
  Bassia eriophora 
  Bassia muricata  
  Chenopodium album 
  Chenopodium murale 
  Haloxylon persicum 
  Haloxylon salicornicum 
  Noaea mucronata 
  Salsola cyclophylla 
  Salsola imbricata 
  Salsola schweinfurthii 
  Salsola tetrandra 
  Salsola villosa 
  Suaeda vermiculata 
Amaryllidaceae Allium dictyoprasum 
  Allium sindjarense 
  Pancratium maximum.
  Pancratium tortuosum
Anacardiaceae Pistacia falcata 
  Pistacia khinjuk 
Apiaceae Anisosciadium lanatum 
  Anisosciadium isosciadium
  Chaetosciadium trichospermum 
  Deverra triradiata 
  Ducrosia anethifolia 
  Eryngium glomeratum 
  Ferula ovina 
  Ferula communis var. glauca 
  Ferula rutbaensis 
  Ferula sinaica 
  Pimpinella cretica
  Pycnocycla saxatilis 
  Pycnocycla tomentosa 
  Scandix stellata 
  Zosima absinthifolia 
Apocynaceae Glossonema boveanum 
  Gomphocarpus fruticosus 
  Gomphocarpus sinaica 
  Leptadenia pyrotechnica 
  Nerium oleander 
  Pergularia tomentosa 
  Rhazya stricta 
  Solenostemma arghel 
Aracaceae Hyphaene thebaica 
  Phoenix dactylifera  
Asperagaceae Asparagus aphyllus 
  Asparagus stipularis 
  Bellevalia flexuosa 
  Dipcadi erythraeum 
Asteraceae Aaronsohnia factorovskyi 
  Achillea fragrantissima 
  Anthemis melampodina 
  Anthemis zoharyana 
  Anvillea garcinii 
  Artemisia judaica 
  Artemisia monosperma 
  Artemisia sieberi 
  Asteriscus graveolens 
  Asteriscus hierochunticus 
  Atractylis cancellata 
  Atractylis carduus 
  Calendula tripterocarpa 
  Carthamnus nitidus 
  Centaurea eryngioides 
  Centaurea pseudosinaica 
  Centaurea scoparia 
  Centaurea sinaica 
  Chiliadenus montanus
  Conyza stricta 
  Cotula anthemoides 
  Cymbolaena griffithii  
  Echinops glaberrimus 
  Echinops hystrichoides 
  Echinops mandavillei 
  Euryops jaberiana 
  Gymnarrhena micrantha 
  Ifloga rueppellii 
  Iphiona mucronata 
  Iphiona scabra 
  Koelpinia linearis 
  Lasiopogon muscoides 
  Launaea capitata 
  Launaea massuensis 
  Launaea mucronata 
  Launaea nudicaulis 
  Launaea spinosa 
  Leysera leyseroides 
  Onopordum ambiguum 
  Osteospermum vaillantii 
  Phagnalon sp. nov. aff. sinaicum 
  Phagnalon barbeyanum 
  Phagnalon nitidum 
  Phagnalon schweinfurthii 
  Phagnalon sinaicum 
  Phagnalon sp.aff. rupestre 
  Picris babylonica 
  Picris cyanocarpa 
  Pulicaria arabica 
  Pulicaria guestii 
  Pulicaria incisa 
  Pulicaria undulata 
  Reichardia tingitana 
  Scariola orientalis 
  Scorzonera intricata 
  Scorzonera schweinfurthii 
  Senecio flavus 
  Senecio glaucus 
  Tanacetum santolinoides 
  Tanacetum sinaicum
  Varthemia montana 
  Zoegea purpurea 
Boraginaceae Alkanna orientalis  
  Anchusa milleri 
  Arnebia hispidissima 
  Arnebia tinctoria 
  Buglossoides tenuiflora 
  Echium rauwolfii 
  Gastrocotyle hispida 
  Heliotropium arbainense 
  Heliotropium curassavicum 
  Heliotropium digynum 
  Heliotropium ramosissimum 
  Lappula spinocarpos 
  Moltkiopsis ciliata 
  Paracaryum intermedium 
  Podonosma orientalis  
  Trichodesma africanum 
  Trichodesma ehrenbergii 
Brassicaceae Aethionema carneum 
  Alyssum homalocarpum 
  Alyssum marginatum 
  Alyssum subspinosum 
  Anastatica hierochuntica 
  Arabidopsis thaliana
  Arabis nova
  Biscutella didyma 
  Cakile arabica 
  Cardaria draba 
  Diplotaxis acris 
  Diplotaxis harra 
  Douepea arabica 
  Eremobium aegyptiacum 
  Farsetia aegyptia 
  Farsetia burtonae 
  Farsetia stylosa 
  Isatis lusitanica 
  Lappula spinocarpa
  Matthiola arabica 
  Matthiola longipetala 
  Morettia canescens 
  Morettia parviflora 
  Notoceras bicorne 
  Savignya parviflora 
  Schimpera arabica 
  Sisymbrium erysimoides
  Sisymbrium septulatum
  Zilla spinosa 
Campanulaceae Campanula dulcis 
  Campanula erinus 
Capparaceae Capparis cartilaginea 
  Capparis decidua 
  Capparis spinosa 
  Maerua crassifolia 
Caprifoliaceae Pterocephalus brevis 
  Scabiosa porphyroneura 
  Valerianella szovitsiana 
Caryophyllaceae Arenaria deflexa 
  Bolanthus filicaulis 
  Dianthus sinaicus 
  Dianthus strictus subsp. sublaevis 
  Gymnocarpos decander 
  Gypsophila capillaris 
  Holosteum glutinosum 
  Minuartia picta 
  Paronychia chlorothyrsa 
  Paronychia sinaica 
  Polycarpaea repens  
  Polycarpaea robbairea 
  Pteranthus dichotomus 
  Sclerocephalus arabicus 
  Silene colorata ssp. oliveriana 
  Silene coniflora 
  Silene corylina 
  Silene linearis 
  Silene sp. aff. peduncularis 
  Silene villosa 
  Spergula fallax 
Celastraceae Maytenus linearifolius 
Cistaceae Helianthemum kahericum 
  Helianthemum lippii 
  Helianthemum sancti-antoni  
Cleomaceae Cleome ambylocarpa 
  Cleome arabica 
  Cleome droserifolia 
Colchicaceae  Colchicum ritichii 
  Colchicum cf schimperi
Convolvulaceae Convolvulus cephalopodus subsp. bushiricus 
  Convolvulus hystrix 
  Cuscuta campestris 
  Cuscuta planiflora 
Crassulaceae Umbilicus horizontalis
Cucurbitaceae Citrullus colocynthis 
  Cucumis prophetarum subsp. prophetarum 
Cupressaceae Juniperus phoenicea 
Cynomoriaceae Cynomorium coccineum 
Cyperaceae Cyperus conglomeratus 
  Isolepis setacea 
  Scirpoides holoschoenus 
Dipsacaceae Pterocephalus sanctus 
Ephedraceae Ephedra aphylla 
  Ephedra foliata 
  Ephedra pachyclada var. sinaica 
Euphorbiaceae Andrachne aspera 
  Chrozophora oblongifolia 
  Euphorbia chamaepeplus 
  Euphorbia granulata 
  Euphorbia retusa 
  Mercurialis annua 
Gentianaceae Centaurium pulchellum 
Geraniaceae Erodium cicutarium 
  Erodium glaucophyllum 
  Erodium hirtum 
  Erodium laciniatum 
  Erodium malacoides 
  Erodium neuradifolium 
  Erodium oxyrhinchum 
  Eryngium glomeratum 
Haloragaceae Myriophyllum spicatum 
Hypericaceae Hypericum sinaicum  
Iridaceae Moraea sisyrinchium 
Juncaceae Juncus rigidus 
Lamiaceae Ajuga chamaepitys ssp.tridactylites
  Ballota saxatilis 
  Ballota undulata 
  Lamium ehrenbergii 
  Lavandula coronopifolia 
  Lavandula pubescens 
  Mentha longifolia 
  Micromeria imbricata 
  Nepeta celicica 
  Nepeta sheilae  
  Origanum syriacum 
  Otostegia fruticosa 
  Phlomis brachyodon 
  Salvia aegyptiaca 
  Salvia deserti 
  Salvia palaestina 
  Salvia spinosa 
  Satureja thymbrifolia 
  Stachys aegyptiaca 
  Teucrium leucocladum 
  Teucrium oliverianum 
  Teucrium polium 
  Teucrium popovii 
  Thymus decussatus 
Leguminosae/Fbaceae Argyrolobium crotalarioides 
  Astragalus bombycinus 
  Astragalus caprinus 
  Astragalus collenettiae 
  Astragalus dactylocarpus Boiss .ssp. acinaciferus 
  Astragalus echinus subsp. arabica 
  Astragalus eremophilus 
  Astragalus fruticosus 
  Astragalus mareoticus 
  Astragalus schimperi 
  Astragalus sieberi 
  Astragalus spinosus 
  Astragalus tribuloides var. minutus 
  Colutea istria 
  Crotalaria aegyptia 
  Crotalaria persica 
  Hippocrepis constricta 
  Indigofera schimperi 
  Lotononis platycarpa 
  Medicago laciniata 
  Ononis natrix 
  Psoralea bituminosa
  Retama raetam 
  Senna italica 
  Tephrosia apollinea 
  Tephrosia nubica 
  Trigonella hamosa 
  Trigonella stellata  
  Vachellia flava 
  Vachellia gerrardii subsp. najdensis 
  Vachellia tortilis subsp. raddiana 
  Vachellia tortilis subsp. tortilis 
Liliaceae Gagea reticulata
  Tulipia biflora
Loranthaceae Plicosepalus acaciae 
Malvaceae Abutilon ramosum 
  Alcea striata 
  Malva parviflora 
Menispermaceae Cocculus pendulus  
  Tinospora malabarica
Moraceae Ficus palmata subsp. virgata 
  Ficus salicifolia subsp. cordata 
  Ficus pseudosycamorus 
Moringaceae Moringa peregrina 
Myrtaceae Myrtus communis 
Neuradaceae Neurada procumbens 
Nitrariaceae Nitraria retusa  
  Peganum harmala 
Nyctaginaceae Boerhaavia diffusa 
Ophioglossaceae Ophioglossum polyphyllum 
Orchidaceae Epipactis veratrifolia 
Orobanchaceae Cistanche phelypaea 
Papaveraceae Glaucium arabicum 
  Hypecoum pendulum
  Papaver decaisnei 
Plantaginaceae Anarrhinum forskaohlii 
  Chaenorhinum rubrifolium 
  Globularia arabica 
  Kickxia acerbiana 
  Kickxia aegyptiaca 
  Kickxia collenetteana 
  Kickxia floribunda 
  Kickxia pseudoscoparia  
  Linaria haelava 
  Lindenbergia indica 
  Misopates orontium 
  Plantago afra 
  Plantago amplexicaulis 
  Plantago lanceolata 
  Plantago ciliata 
  Plantago coronopus var. crassipes 
  Plantago maris-mortui 
  Plantago ovata 
  Plantago sinaica 
  Veronica anagalloides ssp. heureka 
  Veronica rubrifolia .ssp. respectatissima 
Plumbaginaceae Limonium axillare 
Poaceae Aristida adscensionis 
  Avena barbata 
  Avena clauda
  Brachypodium distachyon 
  Bromus danthoniae 
  Bromus fasciculatus 
  Bromus tectorum subsp. tectorum 
  Cenchrus pennisetiformis
  Centropodia forskalii 
  Cutandia memphitca 
  Cymbopogon commutatus 
  Cynodon dactylon 
  Dichanthium foveolatum 
  Enneapogon desvauxii 
  Hordeum secalinum 
  Hyparrhenia hirta 
  Imperata cylindrica 
  Melica persica 
  Panicum turgidum 
  Pennisetum divisum 
  Pennisetum orientale 
  Pennisetum setaceum 
  Phragmites australis 
  Piptatherum holciforme subsp. holciforme 
  Piptatherum miliaceum 
  Polypogon monspeliensis 
  Polypogon viridis   
  Saccharum ravennae 
  Schismus barbatus 
  Stipa capensis 
  Stipa hohenackeriana 
  Stipa parviflora 
  Stipagrostis ciliata 
  Stipagrostis drarii 
  Stipagrostis foexiana  
  Stipagrostis obtusa 
  Stipagrostis plumosa  
  Stipagrostis raddiana 
  Tetrapogon villosus 
  Tricholaena tenerrifae 
Polygalaceae Polygala negevensis 
  Polygala schwartziana 
Polygonaceae Atraphaxis spinosa 
  Calligonum comosum 
  Emex spinosus 
  Polygonum aviculare 
  Rumex nervosus 
  Rumex pictus 
  Rumex versicarius 
Primulaceae Anagallis arvensis var. caerulea 
  Androsace maxima 
Pteridophytes- Adiantaceae  Adiantum capillus-veneris
Ranunculaceae Delphinium sheilae 
Resedaceae Caylusea hexagyna 
  Ochradenus baccatus 
  Reseda arabica 
  Reseda aucheri  var. bracteata 
  Reseda muricata 
  Reseda pentagyna 
Rhamnaceae Sageretia thea 
Rosaceae Prunus korshinskyi 
  Rosa abyssinica 
Rubiaceae Callipeltis cucullaris 
  Crucianella ciliata 
  Crucianella membranacea 
  Galium sinaicum 
  Kohautia caespitosa 
  Pterogaillonia calycoptera 
Rutaceae Haplophyllum tuberculatum 
Salicaceae  Salix acmophylla  Diag.
Sapindaceae Dodonaea angustifolia L
Scrophulariaceae Chaenorhinum rubrifolium 
  Scrophularia deserti 
  Scrophularia hypericifolia 
  Scrophularia peyronii 
  Verbascum decaisneanum  
  Verbascum deserticola 
  Verbascum schimperianum 
  Verbascum shiqricum 
  Verbascum sinaiticum 
Solanaceae Hyoscyamus aureus 
  Hyoscyamus pusillus 
  Hyoscyamus sp. nov
  Lycium shawii 
  Solanum cordatum
  Solanum villosum subsp. miniatum 
  Withania somnifera 
Tamaricaceae Reaumuria hirtella 
  Tamarix aphylla 
  Tamarix nilotica 
Typhaceae Typha domingensis Pers.
Urticaceae Forsskaolea tenacissima 
  Parietaria alsinifolia 
Valerianellaceae Valerianella oxyrhyncha 
Xanthorrhoeaceae Asphodelus fistulosus 
  Asphodelus refractus 
  Asphodelus tenuifolius 
Zygophyllaceae Fagonia arabica 
  Fagonia boveana 
  Fagonia bruguieri 
  Fagonia glutinosa 
  Fagonia indica 
  Fagonia mollis 
  Fagonia orientalis 
  Fagonia ovalifolia 
  Fagonia paulayana 
  Fagonia tenuifolia 
  Seetzenia lanata 
  Tetraena alba 
  Tetraena coccinea 
  Tetraena decumbens 
  Tetranea simplex 
  Tribulus macropteris var. arabicus 
  Tribulus terrestris 


Ononis natrix














Phlomis brachyodon
























Origanum syriacum



















Prunus korschinskyi








Ballota adenophora

Written and managed by Dr. Jacob Thomas