by Stephen Mifsud
   23 Sep 2019      ()
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Cynomorium coccineum   (General's Root)

Cynomorium coccineum   (CYNOMORIACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands at or after year 2000.

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Profile Date Oct-2010 (last update: 12-Jan-2019)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (Oct-2010) Cynomorium coccineum retrieved from on 2019-Sep-23

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Cynomorium coccineum L.
Published in Sp. Pl. 970 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

No Main Synonyms
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life ]

Plant Family :

Cynomoriaceae Lindl. (The Cynomoriaceae Family)
1 species from the Cynomoriaceae family is recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

General's Root, Maltese Fungus

Maltese name(s) :

Għerq il-ġeneral, Għerq sinjur, Żobb l-Art

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common     Frequent     Scarce     Rare     Very Rare     Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: GEOPHYTE (bearing underground bulbs, rhizomes, stolons, etc.)
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection [link]:

Protected by law: schedule VI of legal notice LN311/2006. (strictly protected species)

Red List (1989) :

This species has a threatened status and is listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :


Colour of Flowers:

Red, Brown and Dark

Remarks :

A parasite plant which feeds on other coastal plant species namely Inula crithmoides and Lotus cytisoides. The vernicular name 'Maltese Fungus' is a misnomer both because the species is a plant (not a fungus) and also as it gives the impression that it is a species endemic to Malta, but actually it is distributed in several Mediterranean countries as well in Asia.

The plant has been proteceted from public collection for very long time ago. Historical records mentions that in the 17th century, only high members of the Order of St. John could collect and make use of the medicinal virtues of the plant, while public caught in possession of the plant would have been sent in prison. [300]

Species Description and Distribution

Habitat in Europe:

Parasitic on various plants, usually in saline habitats.

Preferred habitat in Malta:

Data will be available in the next update of this website.

Botanical Description:

Plant dark red to purplish-black. Stems 15-30 cm, arising from a branched, underground rhizome, erect, stout, fleshy, bearing numerous triangular-lanceolate scale-leaves. Inflorescence 6-12 x 2-4 cm, terminal, cylindrical-clavate, with a stout, fleshy axis on which are numerous dense, subcapitate cymes subtended by triangular-peltate, deciduous bracts.

Distributional range:

Mediterranean region, mainly in the west S. Portugal very localised.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):

Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):

the Balaeric Islands, Corse, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), Portugal, Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta

Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(Euro+Med Checklist, 2017) - Country codes

Ag Bl(I) Ca(L) Co -Cr Eg Hs(S) Ir It Jo Li Lu Ma Sa Si(M S) Sn Sy Tn

Images (3 images)
   Cynomorium coccineum   -   Image Code: CYMCC-0.
   Cynomorium coccineum   -   Image Code: CYMCC-1.
   Cynomorium coccineum   -   Image Code: CYMCC-2.

Links & Further info

Google Web

Google Images

Yahoo Web

Yahoo Images




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



The Plant List


Vienna Virt. Hb.





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