Many people are surprised to learn that lavender grows in the desert wadis of South Sinai.
Stagshorn Lavender (Lavandula coronopifolia) is one of 47 lavender species in the Lavandula genus and one of two that are native to Sinai. While not as fragrant as its cousins, the leaves of Stagshorn Lavender do have a pleasant scent and are edible, grazed by the local herds of goats, sheep, and camels.
And I can attest to their tastiness! When I had a plant growing in my desert garden, we often added the leaves to our salads.
It is in fact their distinctively branched stems that gave this species its common name – stagshorn. In Arabic, this plant is known as zeiti, diktae, or netash.
Stagshorn Lavender is a small shrub in the mint family and can grow up to one meter in height. Lavandula coronopifolia grows in open rocky habitats, desert plains, and foothills and is the most widespread species of lavender across northern Africa.
The flowers are sky blue to lilac in color and bloom between January and April.
Which means you can seem them in bloom right now! When I was wandering through wadis last weekend, the lavender plants were one of the few plants with flowers. There would be more if the area had received more rain this season, so my fingers are crossed that the small chance of rain forecast for tomorrow comes through!
You can find Stagshorn Lavender – and over 140 other plants – in my book, Wandering through Wadis: A nature-lover’s guide to the flora of South Sinai. Purchase a PDF copy online here.