Included here are deserts of the Arabian Peninsula including Rub’ al Khali, the Great Nafud, and the crescent-shaped Dahna desert, together with the Sinai Peninsula, Hadramawt, Asir and most of Yemen.

Varthemia montana Desert Rock and Calcareous Cliff Vegetation

Vegetation usually dominated by Varthemia montana is characteristic of bare limestone rocks and cliffs in desert areas such as the Edom, Negev, Sinai and the South Galâla plateau. In the latter Juniperus phoenica may become co-dominant, while in other places other species become locally dominant. For example, Stachys aegyptiaca is locally dominant in the central Negev and Origanum dayi in the Judean Desert. In addition to the true lithophytes this vegetation also includes many chasmophytes. Other characteristic species include Astragalus amalecitanus, Ballota undulata, Centaurea eryngioides, Convolvulus oleifolius, Fumana thymifolia, Helianthemum ventosa, Limonium pruinosum, Parietaria alsinifolia, Phagnalon rupestre, Rusularia lineata, and the endemic or near endemic Ballota kaiseri (Lamiaceae), Paronychia sinaica (Caryophyllaceae) and Phagnolon sinaicum (Asteraceae). Other less common endemic or near endemic species includes Dianthus sinaicus (Caryophyllaceae), Micromeria sinaica (Lamiaceae), Pterocephalus arabicus (Dipsacaceae) and Zygophyllum dumosum (Zygophyllaceae). On the South Galâla plateau Varthemia montane is accompanied by Artemisia herba-alba and Noaea mucronata as the characteristic species of crevices on north facing limestone slopes. Associates include Atraphaxis billardieri, Centaurea eryngioides, Ephedra alte, Pyrethrum santolinoides, Rhamnus disperma, the endemic Ballota kaiseri (Lamiaceae) and local endemic Dianthus guessfeldtianus (Caryophyllaceae).

Zygophyllum dumosum Calcareous Desert Shrubland

These shrublands are characteristic of various hammada type terrains particularly in the mountainous parts of the Sinai, the Negev and also parts of the Judean Desert. It may be found on hammada with a fairly well developed layer of chalky-loamy soil beneath a covering of flint-stones or on hammada with rocky outcrops and poor soil. In addition to the endemic Zygophyllum dumosum (Zygophyllaceae) other characteristic species include Allium desertorum, Asparagus stipularis, Astractylis phaeolepis, Bellevalia desertorum, Colchicum tunicatum, Diplotaxis acris, Fagonia mollis, Farsetia aegyptiaca, Lappula spinocarpos, Muscari inconstrictum, Odontospermum pygmaeum, Ranunculus asiaticus var. tenuilobus, Scabiosa aucheri, Scilla hanburyi, Tetrapogon villosus, while some of the associated endemic or near endemic taxa are Plantago phaeostoma  (Plantaginaceae), Reaumuria hirtella var. palestina (Tamaricaceae) and Reseda stenostachya (Resedaceae).

Desert Dwarf Shrubland on Gypsum

In soft chalky areas fairly rich in gypsum such as parts Jebel Ataqa and Jebel Eqma (Sinai) the vegetation is characterized by sparsely often widely spaced dwarf shrubs dominated by Salsola tetrandra. In other areas, such in the Judean Desert, these chalky habitats are dominated by other dwarf shrubs, such as Chenolea arabica, Reamuria hirtella, Suaeda asphaltica, or the endemic Hammada negevensis (Chenopodiaceae). Other endemic or near endemic species associated with this habitat include Centaurea negevensis (Asterceae), Fagonia sinaica (Zygophyllaceae), Moricandia sinaica (Brassicaceae) and Nasturtiopsis arabica (Brassicaceae).


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