The plant kingdom is full of plants and surprises among them. There are times when you can find some striking species or that have a special characteristic that you do not find in many others. Such is the case of the Helianthemum squamatum.
But What is the Helianthemum squamatum? What characteristics does it have? Can it be cared for indoors or outdoors? Discover much more about this plant, little known today, but with a presence in almost all of Spain.
Features Helianthemum squamatum
Plant Helianthemum squamatum it is small in size. It is a camephyte (woody or herbaceous perennial plant where the buds are not more than 25cm from the ground) that has leaves throughout the year. Can reach up to 40 centimeters in height and from the base is characterized by being highly branched, and tussock. Greenish-yellow in color, the fact that it is covered with small silver-colored peltate scales stands out, which makes it stand out.
Its stems are straight, but can be easily bent, especially if they grow large.
As for the the leaves, these are opposite and fleshy, but its shape is not unique; there are some specimens that can have them lanceolate while others could make a mixture with linear-lanceolate or even spatulate-linear, obtuse, flat …
What is very striking about this plant are its flowers. The Helianthemum squamatum blooms from April to Julyoffering some small yellow flowers completely. These are arranged in twigs, with elliptical bracts that are usually shorter than the pedicels. The sepals are separated from each other and placed in a linear fashion, being shorter than the internal ones, which can be oval or elliptical.
Almost at the same time of flowering, we have the fruits, which go from May to August. These are small capsules of only 3mm. In addition, the seeds offered by the plant are light brown in color, and also very small.
Caring for the Helianthemum squamatum
After what you have read, it is very possible that you intuit that we are talking about a ‘wild’ plant that is, that grows in nature and that It is not usual to have it at home, neither indoors nor outdoors.
Does that mean you couldn’t have it? No … but the places where this plant grows, in order to access its seeds, are often protected areas and you should not touch anything or take anything from them.
The Helianthemum squamatum it is endemic to gypsum soils, that is to say, of gypsum floors. Above all you can find it in the Center and East of the Iberian Peninsula, in the interior areas. But it also has a presence in northern Morocco, as well as in Algeria.
In almost all areas where it grows, the spaces and grounds are protected, which is why you cannot touch them.
You need a floor composed of gypsum and gypsiferous marl, coexisting with bushes and bushes. It likes to grow on slopes and always in full sun.
For this reason, it is not a plant that you can buy in stores, nor that you usually have in gardens. It is more of a part of nature and as such you should leave it in its usual environment.
Now, it may happen that you get seeds, and these require the same care as any other plant, with the exception of the type of soil they require to fully develop. Once they grow, you should place them in areas with full sun, being an outdoor plant that will hardly require watering (simply the rain and little else) since it is totally self-sufficient (as long as it has all the needs of the habitat covered , of course).
But it is best not to consider it as a garden plant because it really is not.
You should know that this plant may not sound familiar to you by its name, Helianthemum squamatumbut by others that it usually receives and that are simpler such as jarilla de flakes, rockrose or glade jar. It is a plant, as you have seen, wilder than anything else, which makes it possible to find it in nature.
Now, her man helianthemum comes from two words, helios, which means sun in Greek, and anthos, which is flower. Therefore, that strange name could actually be translated as flower of the sun. And it is that, to survive, it needs to be in very sunny places, and the flowers will always point to the sun.
And what does it mean scaly? If before we have told you that it is a flower of the sun, with this second term we refer to the scales. And it is that, in almost the entire plant, you will find silver scales that, together with its yellow flower, create a perfect and very striking combination.
One of the most important curiosities of the Helianthemum squamatum is that it is the only species known to be capable of extracting water from rocks. In fact, 90% of your needs can be met through this process. Therefore, its survival in casts is assured, because it is able to feed on them. How do they do it? Minimizing the cost of water, which is why they are so small. In fact, this was discovered through researcher Sara Palacio, from the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology of Spain, as well as Doctor Juan Pedro Ferrio, from the University of Lleida. After studying the plants, they realized that they were capable of absorbing the crystallization water from the gypsum. The process itself is not yet known, but it can certainly be a breakthrough in the future.
In addition, it allows you to be able to excel in drywall and arid terrain, because they have adapted to these easily.
Of course, it is a plant that, although it is not protected, it is important to protect. In addition, the places where it usually grows tend to be protected because it needs a specific habitat.
Now that you know a little more about Helianthemum squamatum Surely on your next trip to the field you will see if you see it. Remember that it is a plant that needs to be where it grows and that, although you might think about planting it in your garden, it is difficult for it to succeed if it is not provided with all the care it needs.