6 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Desert Rose

Some people call it Tile Flower, some people call it Desert Rose. But we’ll tell you the name of this stunning flower, and we’ll tell you amazing facts about it that you probably didn’t know before. It’s not a rose at all, and in fact it’s not even a flower! It is also not rare, but it is wonder-filled with its vibrant colors and striking shape.

The desert rose is a beautiful and unique plant native to the deserts of North Africa. It has many different names: Moroccan oleander, Algerian iris, Egyptian jasmine, and Arabian tulip. It got its name “Desert Rose” (a reference to its pink color) because it grows exclusively in dry regions. This succulent blooms beautiful flowers in different shades of pink and has a succulent stem that is a beauty to behold. Apart from this, there are some amazing facts about the plant you didn’t know that will surprise you.

A full bloom Pink Desert Rose.
Adenium refers to one species, a succulent shrub or tree in Africa and Arabia.

So what are the amazing facts about the desert rose you didn’t know? Although the Adenium Obesum is the commonly known type of the plant, it has various other species. The plant has a medicinal value and has been used for many years in various countries to cure certain illnesses. Its sap is poisonous and can have severe effects on humans and animals. What’s more, it is used in the smudging ritual for cleansing, has a lifespan of up to five hundred years, and is traded internationally.

You probably know and admire the desert rose for its beautiful flowers, leaves, and stem. Apart from its beauty, there are various other things you need to know about the succulent. In this article, you will learn various facts about the plant you didn’t know that will amaze you.

1.     It has Medicinal Value

All the parts of the desert rose have medicinal value and are used as traditional medicine in different countries. In Oman, the stem, roots, flowers, and leaves of the plant are crushed and blended to make a mixture used to treat sexually transmitted diseases.  They also use the skin of the stem and the roots to make a lotion used in treating skin diseases and killing lice. The plant produces white latex that is used in treating septic wounds and tooth decay.

The desert rose has been used over the years in African countries to cure various diseases. In Somalia, the different parts of the plant are used in treating nose infections. The plant has toxic white latex used in killing pesticides. In Kenya, the latex is used in killing lice. Kenyans also make a powder from the plant’s stem that they then apply on livestock to kill parasites. The sap is used as an abortion agent to terminate unwanted pregnancies in humans and animals.

Traditional medicine men in Nigeria use different parts of the desert rose to cure various illnesses. This includes headache, joint and muscle pains, and various skin diseases. In the medical world, some properties of the plant are used in some drugs formulation. Research is ongoing to identify if it can cure some types of cancers. 

2.     It is Poisonous

You love the desert rose for its beautiful flowers, leaves, and stem, but did you know it has a dangerous toxins? The sap in its roots and latex in the stem contain toxins. If ingested and the toxin reaches the heart, it can cause heart failure and, in severe cases, death in humans and animals. However, in African countries, the poison is used in hunting activities. It is applied in the sharp edges of hunting arrows used in hunting large animals.

A poisonous magenta Foxglove.
A Poison to animals.

The poison kills quickly, and once shot by a poisoned arrow, an animal drops dead within two kilometers from where it was shot. The poison can be used alone or in combination with other poisonous concoctions. The skin of the stem and leaves are blended to make a mixture used in poisoning fish. The poison is mainly used for hunting purposes in Tanzania, Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Senegal. The poison is also used for criminal purposes in Senegal and Mauritania, such as poisoning people.

3.     Used in Cleansing Ritual

In various Native American homes, the smudging ritual is done to cleanse the home spiritually. It is a meditative routine done to dismiss negative energy, improve moods, and purify the home. So, what does the desert rose have to do with the smudging ritual? The plant is used during the ritual as a meditation element and to signify mind clarity. Its presence during the ritual is believed to create a calm effect and make a meditator relaxed by eliminating evil thoughts. As a person conducts the ritual, they declare their intentions focusing on the desert rose to invite positive energy in their being and home.

4.     Comes in Multiple Varieties

Most probably, you are familiar with Adenium Obesum, the most commonly known type of the desert rose. What you may not know is there are other types of the plant that most people don’t know exist. These are the Adenium oleifolium, Adenium socotranum, Adenium somalense, and Adenium swazicum. The different types have different flower colors, stem width, leaves sizes, and growth heights.  

Adenium Oleifolium

Oleifolium is commonly found in Botswana and South Africa. It features a large stem with narrow, olive-green leaves. Its flowers can either be pink, salmon, or red and are tubular-shaped.

Adenium Socotranum

The socotranum is commonly found in Socotra, between Yemen and Somalia. It is the biggest in the family, growing up to 15 feet in length and its flowers are larger than those of the other types. Its trunk grows to a diameter of eight feet. The plant has no leaves, and its flowers are pink.

A tree like Adenium.
This Adenium is more tree-like than other varieties.

Adenium Somalense

Somalense is mostly found in Eastern Africa. They have twisted branches and narrow leaves. They grow up to 12 feet in length, and their trunks are usually twisted. Their flowers are trumpet-shaped and can either be white, crimson red or pink.

Adenium Swazicum

Swazicum is the smallest of all the desert roses, growing no more than two feet in length. They are found in South Africa and Swaziland, and they have showy reddish-pink and pink flowers.

5.     It has a Long Lifespan

The desert rose has a long life span of up to 500 years. It boasts notable characteristics that enable it to live through the decades. For instance, its stem has a swollen base that keeps on swelling with the passing of years and can reach up to two meters in diameter. The stem stores essential nutrients that it keeps feeding the other parts of the plant through different weather conditions.

To identify the age of a desert rose, measure the diameter of the stem. This is a slow-growing plant, and every millimeter represents one year. It is a seasonal succulent that sheds leaves when not in season. The plant, interestingly, gets enough nutrients even when other plants start dying due to unbearable weather conditions.

6.     It is Traded Internationally

By now, you already know the various benefits of the desert rose. You are probably considering planting it in your home for a beautiful look, or medicinal value, or even for your hunting escapades. However, you are wondering where you can get the plant since you don’t live close to a desert. You need not worry as the plant is available for sale, probably in a market near you.

A Pinned world map.
Desert Rose traded internationally

The desert rose is traded globally for its various properties, but mostly for ornamental purposes. While it is popular for its medicinal and toxic nature in Africa, it is popular in the West for its aesthetic value. For both reasons, it is exported and imported in large quantities thanks to its ever increasing demand. All you need is to walk into a market near you or search the internet for where you can buy the plants in your area.

How to Grow the Desert Rose at Home Successfully

The desert rose is widely planted for its beautiful flowers, leaves, and succulent stem. Some people grow it around their compounds as a fence, and in Tanzania, it is used in marking grave positions. Its stem and branches produce wood that some people use as firewood. For whatever reason you plant it, take precautions when handling it to avoid getting into contact with its toxic sap by wearing protective clothing. When growing it, always ensure members of your household and pets are safe from its effects. 

A plant that is being taken care indoors.
Desert Rose adds character to your home

The desert rose grows well in dry areas. Ensure it gets enough sunlight and avoid giving it too much water.  Always ensure the soil is completely dry before watering and avoid pouring water directly on the plant. It can be propagated from seeds or branches and stem cuttings. The stems of plants grown from cuttings may not be as succulent as those produced from seeds.

It is no wonder that something as beautiful and hardy as the desert rose can be found in a place like this. The plant has withstood many hardships to grow where it does, but now you know how to care for one so they will continue living on. With its amazing facts, it is easy to see why so many people want a desert rose of their own. Make sure your Desert Rose gets enough water, fertilizer, sunlight and protection from pests. With these tips in mind, we hope you enjoy caring for your own little piece of the Sahara Desert at home or office.

read this next

The desert is not known for anything flowery, but the truth is, there are hundreds of flowering desert plants. Most of these would bloom at the slightest sign of rain, giving the otherwise flat and arid land some rare ambiance and color.
Wondering how to revive a mushy succulent? Mushy succulents are disappointing, but don’t throw them away! Still, some succulent plants are easier to fix than others. Here are tips on what to do when your succulents go soft.
Are you searching for low light houseplants? Do you want a way to decorate your home without bright sunlight from outside? There are many plants that can do well in the artificial light indoors. You can easily add some greenery to your living with these plants
When it comes to landscaping, desert plants are some of the most popular choices. This is due to several reasons. They are cheap, they require minimal maintenance and can tolerate extreme temperatures. Not to mention that most of them look spectacular. Here are 10 desert plants ideas when landscaping
While it is relatively easy to grow cacti plants, you need to keep in mind that they are susceptible to death if the conditions are not right. Since they are slow-growing plants, it may take several weeks or even months before you start to notice signs of death in the plant
Sedum, or stonecrop plant (Sedum spectabile), is a low-maintenance flowering houseplant that works well as a ground cover in outdoor landscapes. Sedum has thick triangular leaves and clusters of tiny starburst flowers to add texture, color and beauty to a garden, with minimal work on your part.
Cacti are among the most popular house plants due to their undemanding nature and lack of light preferences. These topped our list of best small cactus species for your indoors, which you can keep as a table or desk plant.
The Sedums, commonly called stonecrop, are an easy-to-grow group of succulents. They offer something for everyone, from ground covers to tall border plants. And yet even among the Sedums the requirements for sunlight can vary greatly. Some sedums will burn if exposed to direct sunlight for long periods, whereas others do not develop their characteristic bodies and colors without strong suns
There are over 1,500 cacti species that come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. The average lifespan of these plants varies greatly from one species to the other. Species such as the Saguaro can live for up to 200 years while jungle cacti species such as Christmas cactus have an average lifespan of between 20 to 30 years
Feed your precious aloe plant the right way with this expert guide to aloe vera. Discover how to make your aloe plant thrive indoors by treating it with the right amount of lighting, water, and fertilizer. Your Aloe Vera will thank you for your knowledge!
The Kalanchoe plant is well know for its beautiful, long lasting blooms. As time goes by, the stems will often dry up and break off naturally at their base or between where they are connected to the leaves. Most people assume that when this happens it means the plant is dead. The secret to keeping your plants healthy and growing is knowing how to take a cutting off one of these dried up stems and getting it re-planted.
Different cactus species require to be watered in different ways. Specifically, forest or jungle cacti need watering more frequently than desert cacti. Providing more water than your cacti really need will damage the plant and cause root rotting
Something every ghost plant owner should know is how to care for your ghost plant. This plant requires high humidity and low light. Ghost plants do not like direct sunlight, so keep them away from electricity sources such as windows. Watering frequency depends on the soil your ghost plant is in.

Receive the latest news

Get Our Cacti Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest facts, tips, advice, and more!

Your privacy is important to us.