Qatar’s Ministry of Municipality and Environment has recently collected and conserved about 20 Acacia tortilis (samar) seeds from a number of field sites in Qatar using up to date international methods and rules regarding conservation.

The seed collection is part of a national project for the inventory, collection and conservation of wild plants in Qatar.

The Agricultural Research Department at the Ministry state that the plant seeds that have been collected are to be stored in the Genetic Bank, and undergo several technical processes such as their registration with an internationally recognised serial national number, as well as the drying and cleaning of seed samples, and sterilising them at low temperatures to remove any insect eggs – these quite often feed their larvae on the seeds and would obviously contaminate the samples. The seeds will also be assessed to determine if they will eventually grow into a full plant. Research papers and abstracts will also be written to understand better the germination of the seeds.

The project currently has two stages: the short and medium term storage, in cooled rooms for more than 25 years, and long term storage, possibly for up to 100 years.

acacia tortilis from flora of qatar

The Agricultural Research Department is actively attempting to further conservation and research on local flora, having signed an agreement with the Quranic Botanic Garden (QGB) in March 2016. QGB is part of Qatar Foundation, and together the two parties aim to strengthen scientific, agricultural, and environmental research in Qatar. This will be done via the conservation of plant resources and also by collaborating on activities and development issues.

So what is acadia tortilis?acacia-tortilis from Qatar e-natureAcacia tortilis is also known as the ‘umbrella thorn’ due to its distinctive wide-spreading flat top or crown, and is often seen in desert environments. Acacia tortilis is hardy and drought resistant, hence its ability to grow in desert conditions. It bears fragrant white flowers between November and January, which are followed by distinctive curled pods that rattle in the wind.

Photo credits: Flora of Qatar, Qatar e-nature, Gulf Times