Slimelilies in the Algerian Desert - Observation of the Week, 1/4/21

Our Observation of the Week is this Albuca amoena plant, seen in Algeria by @zaidiabdelhamid!

“I am in love with nature as I like calm,” says Zaidi Hamid, who heads a department in Algeria’s Department of Forest Administration. “Since I was young, I like the calm that I discovered outside in nature away from pollution, far from the noise of the city.” Early on, he tells me he didn’t have the means to have a particular method for work and research, but since 2015 he’s  been researching wild plants of southwestern Algeria. 

“I see that information on the current plants in the region are very rare,” he explains. It’s made up of two zones, one called REG or the hamada and the other called the ERG. The REG is stony, while the ERG contains enormous sand dunes that reach 300m (984 ft) in height.

I saw that it is necessary to update [information about plants in this area] and to present it to the world because the plants of arid and Saharan regions are very different from the plants of other regions.

Furthermore, the plants of the Saharan zones have a high nutritional and therapeutic value for individual lives and society as a whole in the Sahara. (In our traditions, we use wild plants of our region as food and as medicinal plants more than anything.)

While driving back to his home city of Abadla nearly two years ago, Zaidi saw Albuca amoena plants in flower, so he stopped and photographed them with his smartphone, taking about 30-40 shots. “After photographing Albuca Ameona, I had an indescribable feeling for the way that I captured these images without specialized photography equipment,” he tells me. “Even if our means are limited, we do not do not lose hope of achieving our desired goal.”

Plants of the genus Albuca are commonly known as “slimelilies” in English, as they exude mucous-like slime. The mechanism of pollination for this genus has been a bit of a mystery, as the tepals of its flowers close tightly over the stigma, which is where pollination usually happens. Steven D. Johnson, et al, found that in Albuca canadensis and Albuca setosa, which occur in southern Africa, large Megachilid bees deposited pollen from their backs onto the tips of the tepals. The pollen germinates from liquid exuded by the plant, and when the flower wilts the tepal brings that to the style, pollinating it. If you’re having a hard time picturing how this works, check out the excellent diagram (Figure 4) in the Discussion section of their publication, which is available here.

Joining iNat just last month on the recommendation of @karimhaddad, Zaidi (above), says 

It was a great honor for me to join it to enrich my knowledge and to join the group of scientists and researchers in the field of nature.

iNaturalist changed my view of research, especially the way to photograph plants and nature in general.

iNaturalist is truly a world that brings together naturalists and scientists that one can trust in, and I am very honored to have joined them.

(Zaidi's text was translated from French by Marité Xavier)

- Zaidi also photographed this gorgeous Colchicum gramineum on the same day he saw the Albuca amoena!

- Here are the most-faved observations of this genus.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, January 04, 2021 23:40



Whoa, that and the Colchicum gramineum are very cool-looking plants.

Posted by marissa-b 14 days ago (Flag)

Wonderful stuff Zaidi, thank you!

Posted by susanhewitt 14 days ago (Flag)

Holy cow, I have never heard of slimelilies before! That's awesome

Posted by amdurso 14 days ago (Flag)

Wonderful observations and explanation

Posted by jonhakim 14 days ago (Flag)

Fantastic observation! : )

Posted by claudia_ma 14 days ago (Flag)

Very cool! Desert plants are my favourite! Best of luck, @zaidiabdelhamid !

Posted by trh_blue 14 days ago (Flag)

Congrats @zaidiabdelhamid sir, superb find !

Posted by naturalist_aditya 14 days ago (Flag)

Cool find

Posted by chrisleearm 14 days ago (Flag)

Thank you all
I am very proud to be with you
inaturalist is my new home

Posted by zaidiabdelhamid 14 days ago (Flag)

Congratulations 👍 dear brother, it's a fruit a good and seriously work. We are waiting for surprisesf from your region.

Posted by karimhaddad 14 days ago (Flag)

Wonderful to have you join iNat and share your observations with the rest of us! Thank you.

Posted by milliebasden 14 days ago (Flag)

Keep up the great work!!

Posted by etantrah 13 days ago (Flag)

What an interesting plant; who wouldn't want to find something called a "Slimelily?" Is it an onion relative?
Great find and photographs @zaidiabdelhamid !

Posted by seaheart88 13 days ago (Flag)

At the other end of Africa, I have a local species of Albuca growing in my garden.

Posted by dianastuder 13 days ago (Flag)

Slimelilies! Awesome. Thank you, Zaidi!

Posted by janetwright 13 days ago (Flag)

So interesting to learn about your work and these lilies.

Posted by carolynstewart 13 days ago (Flag)

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments