Aspalthium bituminosum (L.) Fourr.
Aspalthium bituminosum (L.) Medik.
Aspalthium palaestinum (Gouan) Medik.
Lotodes bituminosum (L.) Kuntze
Psoralea bituminosa L.
Psoralea palaestina Gouan
Rhynchodium bituminosum (L.) C.Presl
Common Name: Arabian Scurf-Pea
Bituminaria bituminosa is a herbaceous perennial plant, though in mild winter climates it remains in growth all year round except in times of severe droughts[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is used in projects to stabilize and restore mine wastes and is sometimes grown as an ornamental.
Macaronesia - Madeira, Canaries; Mediterranean - Spain to Greece, Morocco to Libya, Turkey to Egypt (Sinai)
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Bituminaria bituminosa is native to the Mediterranean region and warm temperate areas of southern Europe, where it can grow at elevations from sea level to more than 2,000 metres. Forms from the Canaries (often known as var albomarginata) are the least cold-hardy, the leaves being killed by mild frosts of short duration - though it will often regrow, Forms from higher elevations in the Mediterranean are known to tolerate temperatures falling to -10°c or even lower[
]. Mean annual rainfall can be as low as 150mm in Macaronesia, whilst at higher elevaions in the Mediterranean it can exceed 1,000mm[
Requires a sunny position in a well-drained soil. Succeeds on poor sandy soils[
]. It has a broad soil adaptation from deep sandy soils to stony shallow soils; however, in the Mediterranean basin, it is mostly found on alkaline soils. In the Canary Islands, Tederas can be found on soils with pH from 4.7 to 8.5[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
In milder climates the plant can flower all year round[
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[
All parts of the plant are used to relieve stomach cramps and intermittent fever[
The plant is used as a hair restoration agent in Madeira[
An Infusion of the fresh leaves is used for the treatment of fevers and urinary infections[
The plant has been reported to contain considerable quantities of phytochemicals that have pharmaceutical activities. These include furanocoumarins (such as psoralen, angelicin), pterocarpans (including erybraedin C, bitucarpin A), and flavonoids (including daidzin, isoorientin)[
The plant is very tolerant of soils contaminated with various metals including copper, zinc and lead. It does not concentrate these contaminants in its leaves, and so cannot be used for phytoremediation, but is very useful for restoring soil structure and humus levels. It has proven to be very useful for stimulating growth of other plants (in particular Achnatherum miliaceum has been mentioned) that can remove these metals and thus enhances remediation of the soil[
The seed is covered by the fruit and can not be separated for sowing. Scarification of the fruit enables water to penetrate the fruit easily and imbibe the seeds. Approximately 70% of seeds are hard and do not imbibe. For experimental purposes a small scalpel cut that can reach the seed coat will improve imbibition and germination[