Maerua crassifolia, Maerua rigida, Maerua hirtella, Maerua uniflora,
Hebrew: מרואה עבת-עלים, Arabic: maeru, meru, sarah, sarh, sarha, sarkh

Scientific name:  Maerua crassifolia Forssk.,
Synonym name:  Maerua rigida R. Br., Maerua hirtella Chiov., Maerua uniflora Vahl
Common name:  -
Hebrew name:  מרואה עבת-עלים
Arabic name:  maeru, meru, sarah, sarh, sarha, sarkh
Family:  Capparaceae, Caper family, צלפיים

Wilde Flora van Israel

Life form:  Tree, scandent shrub
Stems:  1-7 m tall, usually with rounded flattish crown; trunk twisted, up to 40 cm diam., drooping; smooth, grey bark, scaly on old trunks, with yellowish slash and green rhytidome; pubescent grey-brown stems
Leaves:  Shortly petiolate, usually clustered on short spur-branches; alternate or fasciculate; Oblong-ovate, leather-like, glaucous, grey-green, finely pubescent or glabrous
Inflorescence:  Solitairy or in groups of 2 or 3 in clusters of leaves
Flowers:  White, sweet-scented; sepals greenish yellow; no petals
Fruits / pods:  Berry, rosary shaped (torulose), up to 2-5 cm long, pubescent, grey to brown
Flowering Period:  December, January, February, March, April, May
Habitat:  Sudanian
Distribution:  Negev Highlands, Dead Sea Valley, Arava Valley
Chorotype:   Sudan
Summer shedding:  Perenating

Israel, Native plants, Palestine


Derivation of the botanical name:
Maerua has an entry in the 11th century Arabic encyclopedia The Canon of Medicine under the name "meru" and this name became the source for the Latin genus name Maerua; مرو, Maerua crassifolia, Book II - On specific Drugs set down alphabetically, Two Subsections (Materia medica), page 205
crassifolia, crassus, solid, thick; folius, leaf; thick leaved.
rigida, rigid, stiff.
hirtella, a little hairy.
uniflora, one flowered.
  • The standard author abbreviation Forssk. is used to indicate Peter Forsskål (1732 – 1763), a Swedish explorer, orientalist, naturalist.
  • The standard author abbreviation R. Br. is used to indicate Robert Brown (1773 – 1858), a Scottish botanist and palaeobotanist.
  • The standard author abbreviation Chiov. is used to indicate Emilio Chiovenda (1871 – 1941), an Italian botanist.
  • The standard author abbreviation Vahl is used to indicate Martin Vahl (1749 – 1804), a Danish-Norwegian botanist and zoologist.
In Yemen, John R.I. Wood (Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford) records two forms with different vernacular names:"MERU" for glabrous plants from the Tihama (Red Sea Coast) and "SIRAH" for pubescent plants from the dry inner plateau.
Some consider the mainly coastal, glabrous plants to be Maerua crassifolia, and the pubescent plants to be a separate, more widespread taxon, which would have to be called Maerua rigida R. Br. The ranges of both of these taxa overlap in southern and western Arabia.

The main vegetable species listed in ancient Egyptian texts are the Acacia Nilotica (occurs 28 times equally distributed between Upper and Lower Egypt), Balanites aegyptiaca (22 times), and the Ziziphus spina Christi (23 times). The fourth place takes the Maerua crassifolia, and occurs 7 times and only in Upper Egypt.
Maerua crassifolia, the ima tree of the ancient Egyptians, is a shrub or small tree, which has no vernacular name in our languages. Its presence is not often mentioned – seven times – as a sacred tree, but it is rather widely attested in the Egyptian toponymy in the Southern as well as in the Northern area. According to the Egyptians, the oasis of Siwa was considered as the place of the ima trees and Imaou – the name of which indicates the presence of the species Maerua crassifolia – is a town on the fringe of the Western delta. It is worshipped at Edfu along with the Balanite and the Acacia. The tree itself is used to mark the years of the king and is associated with coronation rites; its wood was linked to the transmission of the divine heritage. To memorialise these ideas, the Egyptians offered some leaves of balanite, Maerua crassifolia and Moringa to the divine host of the Edfu temple.

Maerua crassifolia, Maerua rigida, Maerua hirtella, Maerua uniflora, מרואה עבת-עלים


Israel, Nature, Outdoors, Flora