Número 3 | November 2004

The survival of azufaifo in Murcia

The peculiar climatic conditions of Murcia allow to have a vegetation similar to that one which there is in the North of Africa and that one which some Western areas of Europe have, like Sicilia. In this so strange environment, "azufaifo" or Ziziphus lotus lives and grows up, an Iberian African called "arto", as well. It is a thorny bush whose most astonishing characteristic are its powerful roots, that have water from unattainable places for other sorts of plants. These roots usually form very high and extensive groups.
Also, they can grow on the coast, more exactly, near the pre-coastal mountains. In our region, there are some scattered left and, every time, more threatened by the extensive farming of citrus. This plant grows up in lands with a high level of lime, from limy lands. They have the ability to form those ones called "Islas de Recursos", that help the appearance and survival of creating a mild microclimate and enriching the land with nutrients. It is considered by the Catálogo Regional de Flora Silvestre Protegida of the region like vulnerable, that is why it is necessary to draw up a conservation plan of this such peculiar species. This plan must envisage that its main problem is agriculture.
Between the most interesting possibilities excel the creation of a seed bank, use of in vitro techniques, establishing agroenvironmental measures in order to promote its plantation as a live hedge near the neighboring agricultural lands and in order to help the pasture, because the cattle is the main dispersion source of its fruits.
El azufaifo es una especie adaptada a vivir en condiciones de aridez y de extrema sequedad
Las flores son minúsculas, de color amarillo y tienen cinco sépalos
El fruto, de color marrón-rojizo o achocolatado, es comestible pero tiene poco interés
Una medida interesante para la conservación del Ziziphus lotus es su utilización como seto vivo en los linderos de las fincas agrícolas. Estos setos vivos sirven de corredor ecológico para la fauna silvestre y permiten la dispersión del Ziziphus lotus
La característica más asombrosa del azufaifo son sus poderosas raíces, que toman agua de lugares inalcanzables para otras plantas