Spiny starwort

Pallenis spinosa

Status: Very common

Also called by its English name Spiny starwort, this perennial herbaceous plant belongs to the family Asteraceae. Spiny starwort can be found in Southern Europe, North Africa, the Canary Islands, western Asia and the Middle East, in habitats like deserts and coastal areas. This plant species survive in dry environments and can be found on uncultivated sunny lands, waste grounds and on the roadsides of Mediterranean woodlands and extreme deserts. Pallenis spinosa is very common in Palestine and wider area.
Pallenis spinosa has softly, hairy and hard stems reaching up to 60 cm height. The stems are woody on the base and branched. The leaves are alternate, with entire margins, lanceolate and distributed in rosette. This plant has spiny long green bracts surrounding the flowers. The flowers, in turn, are orange/yellow coloured, with hermaphrodite disc florets and two whorls of yellow ray florets, forming an inflorescence. A solitary inflorescence grows at the top of the branches. The flowering period is from April to June or July in some regions and the mature dry fruits are 2, 5 mm long.
Spiny starwort can be also found as decorative plant in gardens, despite its spiny bracts. Nevertheless, this species is referred in popular knowledge as one important medicinal plant in Algeria, and it is commonly used for the treatment of injuries and inflammations.