A distinctive low-lying annual herb that is adapted to dry, sandy environments, Neurada procumbens has branching stems that lie flat on the ground and dense hairs that give it a woolly appearance. Its blue-green leaves are oval in shape and are borne on woody stems that radiate from the base of the plant (2)(3), and the inconspicuous, small flowers have cream, greenish or pinkish petals (2). The disc-shaped fruit is smooth on the underside but has spines on the upper surface that become sharp when dry (2)(4), and the fruit turns hard and woody at maturity (2).
Adapted to arid, sandy environments, Neurada procumbens exhibits an interesting method of reproduction characterised by rapid germination followed by quick development and flowering (6). The dry fruits lie on the surface of the sand and when trodden on, the spines attach the fruit to the feet of animals, or even the tyres of vehicles, and thus get carried for considerable distances before they fall loose. When rain falls, only one of the several seeds in the fruit germinates, and this then rapidly sends a fine tap-root down into the moist sand. If there is a dry period during this event, the tap-root withers and the seedling perishes, but after subsequent showers, further seeds germinate until at last one of them grows successfully. This unusual strategy of development allows Neurada procumbens to germinate on the earliest showers, thus enabling it to benefit from a long growing period (4).
Although the threats to Neurada procumbens are not yet fully assessed, it is known to be well grazed by livestock, such as camel and sheep, and that its leaves and fruits are harvested for use in traditional medicines (2)(5).
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