Hydnora Africana in Sadah: One of the Ten strangest plants in the world

The wadis of Sadah are famous for the presence of Hydnora Africana plant, locally called “Khumlaj”, which intrudes on tree roots and grows under the surface of the ground except in the flowering stage. It has underground creeping stems covered with solid, wart-like protrusions linked to the roots of the host-type plant and its flowers appear on the surface of the ground after heavy rainfall.
The plant comes in the form of a tube at the bottom with four lobes at the top, the length of the tube is about 6 centimetres. The lobes are broad, thick and fleshy, which extend when ripe or remain attached at the ends.
The plant is found in some desert areas in Africa, especially in South Africa, western coastal areas, Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, KwaZulu-Natal and Ethiopia, where it is ranked among the ten strangest plants in the world.
The Scottish researcher “Miranda Morris” and the botanist “Anthony Miller” mentioned in their book (The Dhofar Plants: Traditional, Economic and Medicinal Uses) that this plant belongs to the Hidnuriat family, which is a genus that contains 12 species spread in Africa, where only two species were recorded in the Arabian Peninsula. They are: Hidnora Johannis discovered in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Hidnora Africana which was registered so far in the Dhofar Governorate.
The researchers explained that this parasitic plant appears after rainstorms in the drier parts of the Dhofar Governorate, as well as in the desert areas where the species of acacia plants are found.
This plant grows widely in the wadis of Sadah, and in particular near the brown trees. It can also be seen on the sides of the steep canyons caused by the rain.
The plants that appear above the soil level in the local dialect are called “Nakhri”, meaning the nose. These plants are a bright red colour and they open from the top to become in the form of a flower with four yellow edible petals.
When the plants dry up and die, the fruits below the surface of the soil swell after 6 months and usually reach the size of a large potato, and at that time the demand for the fruits increases. They make group trips to search for the fruits of this plant in the wadis, relying on their previous knowledge of the places where the flowers of this plant appeared, and they dig between 30 to 60 centimetres under the soil to reach the fruit of the plant.
When this fruit is fully grown, it becomes from the inside like a ripe fig. It has a sweet taste and is a rare and delicious food.