Genista monosperma (L.) Lam.
Lygos monosperma (L.) Heywood
Spartium monospermum L.
Retama rhodorhizoides Webb & Berthel.
Lygos raetam bovei (Spach) Tackh. & Boulos
Retama monosperma is a straggling, much-branched shrub with slender stems, growing up to 3 metres tall[
]. The leaves are very small and quickly drop from the plant. The plant remains leafless for most of the year, photosynthesis being carried out by the green stems.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials. It can be used in soil stabilization projects and is sometimes grown as an ornamental, especially in Mediterranean climates[
Mediterranean region - southern Portugal, southwest Spain, Morocco, Algeria, northern Egypt; Macaronesia - Canary Islands
Open positions on sandy or stony soils, most commonly on sand dunes near the coast, often in association with Pinus species; at elevations up to 300 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Retama monosperma is a plant of low elevations in Mediterranean regions with their hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters. It grows mainly in areas where the average annual temperature is between 15.8 - 17.8°c and that of the coldest month can fall as low as 3.7 - 7.8°c[
]. The mean annual rainfall is around 480 - 850mm, falling almost entirely in the cooler months[
]. It can be grown outdoors in temperate regions that are free from prolonged frosts. So long as the preceding summer has been hot enough to ripe the current season's growth, the plant is able to tolerate short periods where temperatures fall to around -5°c.[
Requires a warm, sunny position in a very well-drained, light-textured soil and some protection from rain in the winter[
]. Grows best in drier soils of low fertility[
]. Plants are tolerant of strong, salt-laden winds[
A fast-growing species with an average lifespan of around 15 years[
The flowers are sweetly fragrant[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Whilst Retama raetam is the most commonly used medicinal species[
], various studies have shown that all the species in the genus have very similar medicinal properties. They have a range of biological activities, including antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, anti-proliferative, antiulcer, antiviral, and hepatoprotective activities[
Various excerpts of the plant have shown interesting antileukemic activities and anti-inflammatory for Crohn's disease[
The leaves and young stems are emetic, purgative and vermifuge. They are used in the treatment of rabies[
The crushed branches are used as plasters in making bandages for broken bones[
The plant is used to stabilize mobile coastal sand dunes and provide wind protection[
The branches have been used as a rope to hold freshly harvested straw[
The branches have been used for thatching[
The stems can be used to make brooms[
Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and benefits from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood in a frame[