Growing strong: plan to save the most endangered plant in Abu Dhabi is in full bloom

Experts at Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi will plant 80 Little Dwarf Palms on Jebel Hafeet by the end of the year

The Little Dwarf Palm will be returned to its natural habitat at Jebal Hafeet National Park before the end of the year. Courtesy EAD

A plan to save the most endangered plant in Abu Dhabi is flourishing.

Scientists grew Little Dwarf Palms in a plant nursery run by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) after finding just one example on Jebel Hafeet mountain during an extensive search of the emirate.

The project, which started in 2013, was initially beset by trials and setbacks.

But the scientists persisted, and they have now successfully grown 80 Little Dwarf Palms.

“What we are doing now is preparing those plants by hardening it through more sun exposure and less irrigation so it can be ready to be planted back in its natural habitats within the Jebel Hafeet National Park, hopefully toward the end of this year,” said a spokeswoman for EAD.

“After planting them, they will monitored regularly to measure its success of survival as well its completing its biological cycle of flowering and fruiting”.

The plant, which is also known by its scientific name, Nannorrhops ritchieana, is native to the deserts of central Asia and can be found from Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula.

The native plant grows in small wadis in the mountains, usually in clusters and rarely on its own, like the example on Jebel Hafeet.

It is traditionally used for making baskets, fans, ropes, nets and has some other medicinal uses for healing wounds.


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The 80 Little Dwarf Palms were grown using freshly-collected seeds from the Northern Emirates from some of the few known examples of the plant in the UAE.

Other rare and threatened species which have been grown successfuly at the EAD native plant nursery include the Caralluma, a small succulent plant, and the White Saxaul, which is a small tree. Both species are indigenous to the United Arab Emirates.

EAD has placed a special focus on conserving the flora and fauna on Jebel Hafeet since 2011.