Medemia argun is a palm adapted to one of the harshest environments on the planet. Rain may not fall for years, and summer temperatures can exceed 40°C. Nevertheless, Medemia can survive only in places where it can reach ground water. On germination, the seed produces a very long root up to 3 m in length in search of water. Numerous seeds pile up under the crowns of mature females, baking in the sun and yet apparently remaining viable. It has been suggested that the palm is dispersed by flood waters following rains.
Occurs as scattered individuals and populations in the Nubian desert of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. It was first described as Areca passalacquae from fruits collected by archaeologists from Egyptian tombs dating back to 2500 BC. The palm was first described from living material collected in Sudan in 1881. It was not discovered as a living member of the Egyptian flora until 1963. The palm was subsequently considered extinct in the wild until its rediscovery in Sudan in 1995. The main Egyptian population in Dungul Oasis consists of just four males and three females of reproductive age, plus some juveniles, with the few other sites consisting of lone individuals. The Sudanese populations are larger, consisting of some hundreds of individuals, but these localities are geographically restricted.
Heimisch in, Egypt, Sudan
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