Acridocarpus (Acridocarpus orientalis)

Acridocarpus orientalis flowers
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Acridocarpus fact file

Acridocarpus description

GenusAcridocarpus (1)

Acridocarpus orientalis is a small perennial shrub with highly branched, hairy stems and yellow flowers, which grow in clusters (2) (3). The five yellow petals of the flower have fringed edges and are not joined to each other (2) (3). The leaves of species in the Malpighiaceae family are usually evergreen (4), and have smooth edges, a pointed tip and grow at alternating points along the central stem (3).

The young leaves of Acridocarpus orientalis are covered in reddish-brown hair, which is lost as the plant grows, creating a smooth, leathery leaf with prominent veins (2) (3). The single seeds of Acridocarpus orientalis are contained within a winged fruit, with the seed found at the base of the slightly hairy wings (3).

For some species of the Malpighiaceae family, there are characteristic hairs on the stems which are easily detachable from the plant and can cause irritation to the skin (2) (4)

Height: up to 3 m (2)

Acridocarpus biology

Plants within the Malpighiaceae family have bisexual flowers, containing both male and female reproductive organs (4). Flowering in Acridocarpus orientalis occurs twice a year, once from April to June and again between October and November (3). Little other information is available about the biology of Acridocarpus orientalis.


Acridocarpus range

The full range of Acridocarpus orientalis is unknown. It has been recorded from the foothills of the Jebel Hafit Mountain on the border between Oman and the United Arab Emirates (5) (6), as well as other mountains in the north and south of Oman (6) and in Somalia (3)


Acridocarpus habitat

Acridocarpus orientalis inhabits wadis and mountain foothills (3). In Somalia, it has been recorded at elevations between 100 and 700 metres (2)


Acridocarpus status

Acridocarpus orientalis has yet to be classified by the IUCN.


Acridocarpus threats

Jebel Hafit Mountain is a major tourist attraction within the range of Acridocarpus orientalis (5), and human activities may have a negative effect on the plant species occurring there (7). Acridocarpus orientalis is eaten by goats (7) and the caterpillar of the giant skipper butterfly (Coeliades anchises), which may be detrimental to the population size due to the limited range of this species (3).

The seeds of Acridocarpus orientalis are used by locals in pain relief medicine. The seeds are crushed into a powder and the oil produced is massaged onto the forehead or joint (3) (6). The seeds are also used as a source of yellow dye in Oman (5). The reddish hairs of the young leaves are also used as a tanning agent and to treat udder inflammation in cattle (3)


Acridocarpus conservation

There are not known to be any specific conservation measures currently in place for this species. However, an effort to protect the mountain habitat of Acridocarpus orientalis would be beneficial for the survival of this and other plant species in the long term (5)


Find out more

Find out more about Acridocarpus orientalis and other plants in the United Arab Emirates:

  • Jongbloed, M. (2003) The Comprehensive Guide to the Wildflowers of the United Arab Emirates. Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, Abu Dhabi.

Find out more about conservation in the United Arab Emirates:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



A plant which retains leaves all year round. This is in contrast to deciduous plants, which completely lose their leaves for part of the year.
A plant that normally lives for more than two years. After an initial period, the plant usually produces flowers once a year.
Mountain canyons found in North Africa and the Middle East that only carry water when it rains.


  1.  Tropicos (January, 2012)
  2. Thulin, M. (1993) Flora of Somalia. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Available at:
  3. Jongbloed, M. (2003) The Comprehensive Guide to the Wildflowers of the United Arab Emirates. Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, Abu Dhabi.
  4. Cullen, J., Knees, S. and Cubey, S. (2011) The European Garden Flora: A A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass. Volume 3: Dicotyledons, Resedaceae to Cyrillaceae. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  5. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (Eds.) (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
  6. Ghazanfar, S.A. and Fisher, M. (Eds.) (1998) Vegetation of the Arabian Peninsula. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
  7. Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (2003) A Report on a Preliminary Ecological and Environmental Survey of Jebel Hafeet. Terrestrial Environment Research Center, Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, Abu Dhabi. Available at:

Image credit

Acridocarpus orientalis flowers  
Acridocarpus orientalis flowers

© Dr Helen Pickering

Helen Pickering
Royal Botanic Gardens
United Kingdom


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