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Ornamental Plants of Al Ain


by Geoff Sanderson

The following is a list, prepared by Geoff Sanderson, of cultivated amenity horticulture plants.

The plants are nearly all found in general cultivation in Al Ain, very few are indigenous. It is not a complete list and the information is being continuously expanded as I find time to do some research. I have decided to pass it round in order to get some help and to provide something useful even in its present state.

A check list of indigenous species is being prepared by Marijcke Joengbloed accordingly I see little point in repeating the effort.

At this point in time this list should be used only as an incomplete reference and needs to be supplemented by illustrated texts.

The aim, in time, is to have illustrations for all of the plants listed and a more comprehensive description.

I would appreciate anyone photographing plants on the list, when they are in flower, and sending me the photo (with location and date thereon), via ENHG.

Any other information pertinent to any plant listed would also be welcome, especially origin, flowering time and any other habits or uses.

When it is eventually published, your name will be credited to the photo and to any text contributions.

Approximately 60% have been photographed to date.

Scientific Name

Common Name




Acacia tortillis Samur Arabian Peninsula, North Africa Small umbrella shaped tree, indigenous, very tough Most common small tree in the UAE
Agave attenuata -- S.W. USA -- --
Acalypha wilkesiana -- -- -- --
Var. macrophylla -- -- -- --
var. tricolour -- -- -- --
Adenium obesum -- Oman, Yemen Succulent shrub, Frangipani like stem with little foliage. bright pink tubular flowers in April --
Var. Flaming Giant -- -- -- --
Albizzia lebbeck -- -- Tree – fast growing, feathery foliage cream/white pom pom flower --
Ageratum houstonianum Floss Flower -- Annual with Powder puff blue, white or pink flowers Flowers into May, best in March
Alacea rosea Hollyhock -- -- --
Alestroemia scholaris -- India Large evergreen shade tree There is one growing outside snooker club at Hilton
Allamanda cathartica -- -- Deep pink tubular flower Climbing plant needs shelter --
Aloe striata -- -- -- --
Aloe species -- -- -- --
Alternanthera versicolor -- -- Low spreading ground cover – green, red, yellow forms --
Alyssum maritimum (see Lobularia) Sweet Alice -- Low growing annual, pink, purple, white forms Spring flowers, very fragrant. Sow seed direct where to grow.
Amaranthus tricolour -- -- Varieties from deep red to green with yellow and orange splashes. Variety Joseph’s coat is a mix of yellow, orange, red, green
Antigonon leptopus Coral Vine -- Pink coral coloured flowers light green leaves not active in cooler months Flowers October/November
Antirrhinum majus Snapdragon -- -- Need good maintenance to get best performance. Maybe best in parks
Arctotis cumbletonii Hybrids African Daisy -- -- --
Arundo donax Giant Reed -- -- Used at new section of Al Ain Zoo to create part of habitats especially for large cats.(tigers)
Asclepius curassavica Blood flower -- -- Not all that impressive. Too much foliage, not enough flower
Aster Hybrids -- -- Annuals. Flower colour pink, blue, red, purple Not exceptionally hardy. Grow best in parks. Flower March
Atriplex cinerea Gray Saltbush Australia Small Shrub, silver gray foliage tolerant of heat and dry conditions
Atriplex glauca Saltbush -- Low growing, spreading shrub, gray foliage ditto
Atriplex lentiformis Breweri Brewers Saltbush USA Taller growing shrub, gray foliage ditto
Atriplex semibaccata Saltbush Australia Low spreading form Good for stabilising sand dunes
Azaderachta indica Neem Tree India One of the best trees for Al Ain, excellent shade, tolerates heat and salt Dormant over winter, new shoots in April
Bougainvillea buttiana Hybrids -- -- -- --
Bougainvillea glabra -- -- Standard purple/magenta colour, Magnifica (red), Alba (white) other Hybrids Flower November at best
Bougainvillea Hybrid Dwarf forms -- -- -- --
Cactus – Echinocactus, Echinopsis -- Central America, sth USA Cacti for special purposes needing very little water weeding and irrigation control a major problem
Calathea Hollyhock -- Tall annual Best from February to end March
Calendula officinalis Marigold -- Orange or yellow annual early winter to March --
Calotropis procera Ushar -- Poisonous large shrub. Gray foliage, desert plant grows easily in urban areas but not suitable for cultivation
Callistephuus chinensis Milady Hybrids China Aster -- Fast growing annual, spring, early summer flowering. Magenta, scarlet, pink, white, blue, purple. --
Canna indica -- -- Tall Herbaceous perennial red yellow pink orange forms. Dwarf forms avail best flowers in October/November
Carissa macrocarpa Horizontalis and Green Carpet -- -- Evergreen shrubby ground covers, even in character, white flower, red berry --
Carpobrotus Pigface -- Fleshy ground cover bright magenta flowers --
Cassia fistula -- -- Tree with brilliant yellow flowers hanging in racemes. Tree otherwise unattractive, Mix with shelter trees --
Cassia javanica -- -- Apple Blossom Tree --
Caesalpinia gillesii -- -- Yellow flowered large shrub, not as attractive as C. pulcherrima best flowering in October/November
Caesalpinia pulcherrima -- -- Tangerine coloured flower on large shrub. Semi deciduous. Best flowering in October/November
Calliandra sp -- -- -- --
Catharanthus roseus Hybrids Madagascar periwinkle -- Perennial with bright flowers in summer. Magenta purple pink red white. Start flowers April finish December Best flowering November
Celosia cristata Cockscomb -- Medium height annual with Coral like flowers in red orange, vermilion and pink best flowering in spring months
Celosia plumosa Hybrids Prince of Wales Feather -- Annual with red, yellow, orange, magenta and pink feathers Medium height and dwarf forms available. Flower from spring into early summer.
Centaurea cyanuus Blue straw flower -- Gray foliage vivid blue flower Untried in Al Ain
Cestrum nocturnum Night Scented Jessamine or Lady of the Night -- Medium rambling shrub for sheltered locations aromatic flowers at night Use as background plant under trees
Chorisia speciosa Floss Silk Tree -- Pink flowered tree worth trying in parks --
Chrysanthemum see Dendranthema -- -- -- --
Citrus species Lemon -- Not very successful due to virus; excellent fragrance. Use as background plant in parks for scent. --
Cleome hassleriana Spider Flower -- Tall annual, pink flowers Best March April in Al Ain
Clerodendrum inerme Indian Privet -- Commonly used as a hedge Light prune only when growing.
Clitoria ternatea Butterfly Pea -- Climber blue flower, fresh green leaves. Also as rampant ground cover --
Coccoloba uvifera Sea Grape -- Small tree glossy circular leaves – spikes of small white flowers and purple fruit edible --
Conocarpus lancifolius Syn. Anogeissus latifolius -- -- Medium height, slender tree with great tolerance for salt and wind. --
Coreopsis tinctoria syn C. grandiflora Calliopsis -- Annual, early summer, medium tall, yellow flowers Plant close together for best flowering effect
Cordia myxa Tree cordia -- Medium height untidy looking tree with fragrant white flowers Very Hardy
Cordia sebestena -- -- Large shrub with large green leaves; can become small tree; orange flowers. Needs shelter and summer water --
Cosmos bipinnatus Common Cosmos -- early summer annual; feathery foliage, pink, lavender, blue flowers – tall --
Crinum pedunculatum Beach Lily -- Broad light green strap leaf, salt tolerant white flower lily --
Cryptostegia madagascarensis -- Madagascar Woody twining plant beautiful pink/purple flowers Hardy
Cycas revoluta Sago palm -- Small palm for containers in sheltered places Shelter from afternoon sun
Cyperus involucratus Umbrella Sedge -- Reed like plant with umbrella whorl on top. Shelter from afternoon sun
Dahlia Hybrids -- -- Tall and dwarf forms of annual. Red ,yellow, pink, purple, white, orange Best from March to April
Delonix regia Royal Poinciana -- Medium tree with feathery foliage and brilliant orange red flowers in early summer, late April May Needs shelter in Al Ain and plenty of summer water. Cut water in winter
Dendranthema Hybrids -- -- Annual forms --
Dianthus chinensis Hybrids -- -- Low growing, mainly green foliaged annual red, pink, white, serrated edge, Best March April
Dimorphetheca sinuata Cape Marigold -- Creamy white flower, gray foliage, low, spreading plant Probably untried in Al Ain
Dodonaea viscosa Shahs Oman Indigenous evergreen shrub to 2m Good hedge plant, do not over water esp. in winter.
Dombeya walichii Also D. elegans -- -- Large shrub/small tree with maple like evergreen leaves and masses of deep pink balls of flowers in March --
Echeveria elegans many other species -- -- Succulents with pink flowers compact rosette foliage bluish grey No water in winter
Echinacea purpurea -- -- Tall summer flowering annual deep pink/magenta flower --
Euphorbia millii syn splendens Crown of Thorns -- Red flowers on stark, ferociously thorned stems --
Euphorbia Snow on the Mountain -- -- --
Ficus benghalensis Banyan -- Medium to large eg tree med to large leathery leaves Very tough shade tree
Ficus microcarpa Nitida -- -- Finer leaf, good shape Needs shelter and well watered
Ficus religiosa Peepul Tree -- Superb large tree with poplar like fresh green foliage all year Very good tree for Al Ain
Ficus ufectoria -- -- Medium e.g. tree, larger leaf than Nitida Needs to be well watered
Gaillardia pulchella syn grandiflora Hybrids Blanket Flower USA Annual grey green foliage orange red/yellow edge flowers. Double form orange/red colour Very hardy flower most of year best early summer
Gazania rigens Syn G. splendens -- -- Daisy flower colours from orange, gold, yellow, cream, pink, bronze-red Grey green foliage Very good ground cover should be more widely grown.
Geranium see Pelargonium zonale -- -- -- --
Gomphrena globosa Globe Amaranth -- Magenta coloured annual med height. Also white form Excellent summer annual
Helianthus annuus Common Sunflower -- Tall yellow annual for winter months --
Hibiscus rosa sinensis Hibiscus -- Common red double form only. Hybrids do not survive salinity
Hibiscus tileacious Sea Hibiscus -- Yellow flower small tree, large heart shaped leaves Salt tolerant
Hymenocallis festalis Spider Lily Central and South America White flowered lily with green strap leaves. Flowers in May
Impatiens balsamina Balsam -- Medium height annual pink, lavender flowers Best March April
Ipomoea palmata -- -- Climber --
Iresine herbstii -- -- Perennial ground cover esp var. Brilliantissima Best shaded from afternoon sun in Al Ain. Needs regular pruning in growing season.
Ixora -- -- Small shrub, shiny waxy leaves, red berries. Only for greenhouse use in Al Ain, sensitive to saline water, needs humidity
Jasminum sambac Razji or Arabian jasmine -- Single and double forms on low shrubs of irregular habit Grown for scented flowers
Jasminum grandiflora Common Jasmine -- Climbing plant, deep green foliage, white fragrant flowers In Al Ain, best if shaded from afternoon sun, plant on east facing wall
Kalanchoe sp. -- -- Limited use in pots Shade from afternoon sun
Kochia scoparia Summer Cypress -- Fine foliage, summer annual, green and autumn red form Needs to be grown in mass beds for best effect
Koelreutaria elegans Flamegold Tree Taiwan Tree as yet untried in Al Ain --
Lantana camara Common Lanatana -- Good shrub and ground cover plant yellow, white, orange, pink forms Do not over water esp in winter. Needs pruning during growing season. Flowers most of year.
Lathyrus odoratus Sweat Pea -- Scented annual, best in winter months, pink, purple, red, white Limited use in parks
Lawsonia inermis Henna -- Large shrub loosely branched background plant only --
Leucaena leucocephala -- -- Fast growing small tree with fluffy yellow ball flowers Hardy tree tolerates salinity
Limonium sinuuatum Statice -- Annual, papery flowers in purple, yellow, white and pink colours Best for flower arrangements
Lobularia maritima Alyssum or Sweet Alice -- See Alyssum --
Macfadyena unguis catii Cat’s Claw Creeper -- Vigorous climbing plant, yellow/orange trumpet flowers --
Mangifera indica Mango -- Evergreen Tree with good foliage but needs shelter of Date palms --
Matthiola incana Stock -- Grey green foliage annual with large spikes of magenta pink, purple, pale pink, white. Winter flower only
Millingtonia hortensis Millingtonia India Columnar Tree with white, tubular fragrant flowers in November --
Mirabilis jalapa Four O’clock -- Med/tall Pink flowered annual, also white and stripe, red, yellow. Early summer, actually perennial but grown as annual in Al Ain
Moringa oleifera Drumstick Tree India Medium graceful tree to 10m. Highly scented white flowers and long bean like seed pods Seed pods used as a vegetable especially by Indians
Moringa perigrina -- Oman Fast growing small tree like Tamarisk. White/pink flowers Common around Al Ain non irrigated areas. Very hardy
Myrtus communis Myrtle or As Mediterranean region but also grows wild in Oman Evergreen shrub to 3 metres Suitable hedge plant
Nerium mascatense syn. Nerium oleander Haban or Oleander Native to Oman Oleander of cultivation is same as N. mascatense. Mainly pink flowering evergreen shrub. Cultivars grown in the West of USA Extremely poisonous plant
Ocimum tenuifolium Perennial Basil -- Medium height herbaceous plant with aromatic leaves Can be used as a hedge
Pelargonium zonale -- -- Attractive annual pink red white. At best late March through April early May --
Pennesetum setaceum " " Rubra -- -- White flowered grass, green leaves. Pink flowered grass, ruby leaves Very successful in Al Ain, especially spring months, March April
Petunia grandiflora Petunia -- Excellent annual flower single colours ranging from white to purple, pinks, reds and even yellow. Best from October to late May, early June
Petunia multiflora Petunia -- As above but also fragrant, flowers are smaller and are usually sold in mixed colour forms they are hardier than P. grandiflora but need occasional trimming to keep them in shape and flowering continuously
Phlox drummondii Annual Phlox -- Pink red white range of colours Best for parks
Phoenix dactylifera Date Palm -- Of primary importance both culturally and in terms of oasis character of Al Ain Flower in march April, fruit late summer August September October
Pithecelobium inga dulce Manila Tamarind Philippines Good shade tree Salt tolerant to 2000ppm
Plumbago capensis -- -- Blue flowered small shrub Must have shelter from afternoon sun
Plumeria obtusa Frangipani Arabic is Yasmin Hindi -- White flower spring early summer. Leaves have a round3ed end --
Plumeria rubra Frangipani -- Fragrant white or pink flowers, Long pointed leaf --
Portulacca grandiflora Portulacca -- Summer annual, fine leaf, low spreading colours purple, pink, yellow, red Flowers from May to December
Prosopis cineraria Syn P. spicigera Ghaf -- Indigenous tree species protected by Sh Zayed Salt tolerant to 4,500ppm
Punica granatum Pomegranate -- Small tree with sparse green foliage, red flowers and large fruit which colours red when ripe. Ancient fruit believed to be the forbidden fruit of biblical times. Commonly grown in Omani wadi Oases, fruit is smaller than in Spain, Italy, Greece
Rudbeckia hirta Rudbeckia -- Annual, med tall, yellow orange and some with red centre orange edge --
Ruellia ciliosa -- Brazil Small shrub with deep pink trumpet flowers Good for dry places under trees
Salvia splendens -- -- Red flowering annual Feb March at best
Senecio cineraria Dusty Miller -- Perennial grey foliage, yellow flowers --
Senna didymobotria Senna -- Yellow flowers in winter on spikes. Shrub to 2.5m --
Sesevium -- -- Fleshy leafed herbaceous ground cover. Grey green foliage Thrives on low water supply. being widely used in place of turf grass in Al Ain.
Tabernae montana Crepe Gardenia -- 2m high shrub, glossy, deep green foliage, white fragrant flowers in May also November. --
Tabebuia chrysotricha Golden Trumpet Tree -- Tree to 40 ft brilliant yellow flowers in end March early April --
Tabebuia heterophylla Pink Trumpet Tree -- Tall semi deciduous tree but mainly evergreen tree with pink trumpet flowers --
Tecoma stans -- -- Yellow flrg large shrub – Jan Feb, early March Commonly used along highways
Tecomella undulata Farfar Oman Tall shrub, grey green fine weeping foliage Yellow to orange flowers late March early April – very attractive. Can also flower in November. In median on Dubai road between Hilli and Al Oha roundabouts
Tagetes patula French Marigold -- Annual, Orange and yellow and orange/red forms. Many hybrids Flowers from November to May
Tagetes erecta African Marigold -- Medium tall annual with yellow or orange flowers --
Tamarindus indica Tamarind Tree -- Tall stately tree, grey green, featheery foliage, not unlikr Ghaf Tree. Not common in Al Ain
Terminalia ajuna -- -- Smaller leaf, attractive trunk --
Terminalia catappa Indian Almond -- Tree with large leaves, very good shade tree Does better on coast where there is humidity. Needs water and some shelter to thrive in Al Ain
Thespesia populnea Indian Tulip Tree -- Tree to 40 ft yellow flower, Poplar like leaf One very good specimen in roundabout, to south of Jebel roundabout in Municipality Road. Should be more widely grown.
Thevetia peruviana -- -- Large, poisonous shrub, yellow flowers, Hardy, can use as hedge
Tradescantia pallida -- -- Purple leafed, pink flowered ground cover from Mexico Shade from afternoon sun
Verbena tenuisecta Blue Verbena Chile/Argentina Lilac/Blue flowered perennial, fine foliage. Attractive ground cover should be widely used. Low water need.
Verbena Hybrida Rose Verbena -- Annual, colour range from light pink through darker pink, red, white and purple --
Verbena peruviana -- -- Perennial ground cover, red and pink colours --
Vitex trifolia Syn. V. agnus-casti Kaffmiriam or Arabian Lilac -- Purpurea has purple underside of leaf, V. Variegata has bright green leaves, edged with yellow. --
Wedelia trilobata Creeping Daisy -- Ground cover, deep green foliage, yellow flowers Hardy, should be widely used
Yucca filementosa Yucca gloriosa -- -- Southeast USA striking creamy white flower spikes summer --
Zinnia elegans -- -- Annual from Mexico, big colour range and sizes vary from dwarf to tall. Flower from November to May
Zyziphus jujuba Chinese date (also Sidr but is not indigenous species) China Larger edible fruiting form of weeping tree. Cream flower October/November
Zyziphus spina-christi Sidr Arabian Peninsula Tree of weeping character, thorny, Indigenous and protected by Sh Zayed decree Cream coloured Flowers October, early November. Attracts many insects. Fragrant.



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