Uromastyx Native Plants

This is not an exhaustive guide to feeding Uromastyx; there are hundreds of food plants you can give your Uro outside of this list. This plant “menu” was compiled using various sources available on the web, most notably “Feeding Behaviour and Food Selection of Dhab Uromastyx microlepis From Wild Vegetation” Mansour A. AL-Hazmi, King Abdulaziz University (http://qspace.qu.edu.qa/bitstream/handle/10576/10234/070121-0008-fulltext.pdf?sequence=4)

The chart below comes from that resource, however, edits were made, mostly corrections of misspellings, renaming and reclassifying taxa.These changes are defined below the chart.

Further research is also provided within our modified list with a link to a plant database or Wikipedia entry. Probably the most useful addition for the reptile hobbyist are the substitutions available outside of the native Uromastyx distribution within Africa and the Middle East. These suggestions are mostly targeted to North America (NA) but suggestions have been provided for Europe when available. It is possible that other arid environments have naturalized these specific plants in the form of invasive weeds or landscaping plants – but we have tried to minimize the recommendation of these in cases where they may damage the local ecosystems.

Feeding preference is denoted by 1 for preferred 2 for occasionally and 3 for rarely. No number present indicates that Uromastyx were not observed eating from this plant. They are included for educational purposes or for those designing a comprehensive outdoor enclosure. Also listed are the parts of the plant ingested; most notably Uromastyx favor young leaves, shoots, buds and flowers. This feeding tactic not only takes advantage of highly nutritious new growth but also avoids toxic compounds more developed in mature foliage.

Please note that we are not trained botanists and there is a chance that we have wrongly classified a plant or have recommended taxa that are toxic in nature. We encourage readers to research and verify plants before feeding them to your captive Uromastyx. Uro species span a wide geography, so what is appropriate for the subject species (U. aegyptius microlepis).

Native Uromastyx Plants

Family Botanical Relations Species Food Pref. Common name(s) Type Parts Eaten
Acanthaceae   Blepharis ciliaris[1] 1   Perennial Buds & leaves
Reference URL: http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Blepharis_ciliaris
Aizoaceae Ice plant/stone plant family Aizoon canariense[2] 1   Annual shoots
Reference URL: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Aizoon_canariense
Substitutes: Common edibles within this family include Tetragonia tetragonioides (New England Spinach), Carpobrotus edulis, Mesembryanthemum crystallinum. New England spinach has a high oxalate content.
Aizoaceae Ice plant/stone plant family Aizoon hispanicum[3] 1   Annual shoots
Reference URL: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aizoon_hispanicum_1.JPG
Amaranthaceae A subfamily of Amaranths Salicornia europaea     Annual  
Amaranthaceae Chenopodiaceae: Goosefoot family, subfamily of Amaranths Anabasis setifera     Perennial  
Notes: Other sources [1] report Uromastyx feeding on Chenopodium species within this family
Substitutes: Quelite, Lamb’s Quarters (both European & American species), California goosefoot
Amaranthaceae Chenopodiaceae: Goosefoot family, subfamily of Amaranths Haloxyon salicornicum     Perennial  
Amaranthaceae Chenopodiaceae: Goosefoot family, subfamily of Amaranths Salsola kali   Russian thistle, tumbleweed Annual  
Apocynaceae Dogbane family Rhazya stricta     Perennial  
Reference URL: http://faculty.ksu.edu.sa/assaeed/Pages/Rhazya_stricta.aspx
Notes: Poisonous, medicinal plant
Asteraceae Asteraceae family, aka Compositae, Anthemis considered "chamomile" plants Anthemis deserti 1 dog fennel Annual Leaves
Reference URL: http://faculty.ksu.edu.sa/assaeed/Pages/Anthemis_deserti.aspx
Substitutes: Roman chamomile, German chamomile, dog fennel
Asteraceae Asteraceae family, aka Compositae, asters, daisys sunflowers Anvillea garcini 1   Annual Leaves
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anvillea
Asteraceae Asteraceae family, aka Compositae. Artemisia considered wormwoods. Artemisia sp. 2 wormwood, mugwort, tarragon Perennial Leaves
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_(genus)
Notes: Genus contains plants with volatile oils
Substitutes: Tarragon is a particular favorite of MVR’s captive Uromastyx
Asteraceae Asteraceae family, aka Compositae, asters, daisys sunflowers Centaurea sp.   starthistles, knapweeds Annual  
Asteraceae Asteraceae family, aka Compositae, asters, daisys sunflowers Launaea arabica 3 Arabian launaea Perennial Flowers & leaves
Reference URL: http://www.flowersinisrael.com/Launaeaangustifolia_page.htm
Asteraceae Asteraceae family, aka Compositae, asters, daisys sunflowers Launaea capitata 3   Perennial Flowers & leaves
Reference URL: http://plants.jstor.org/taxon/specimens/Launaea.capitata
Boraginaceae Borage family Moltkiopsis ciliata 1   Perennial Leaves, flowers & fruits
Reference URL: http://journals.tubitak.gov.tr/botany/issues/bot-10-34-5/bot-34-5-2-0907-98.pdf
Substitutes: Borage leaves, flowers & fruits. Caution: dried leaves may contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids
Brassicaceae Brassicaceae aka Cruciferae family Anastatica hierochuntica 3 dinosaur plant, resurrection plant Annual Flowers & leaves
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anastatica
Brassicaceae Brassicaceae aka Cruciferae family Sisymbrium irio 1 London Rocket Annual shoots
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisymbrium_irio
Substitutes: Go easy on cruciferous vegetables, which contain phytochemicals (glucosinolates, goitrogens) which may bind other nutrients or impair biological functions
Caryophyllaceae Carnation family Gypsophila sp.   baby’s breath, soap wort Annual  
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gypsophila
Caryophyllaceae Carnation family Paronychia arabica   chickweed, nailwort Annual  
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paronychia_(plant)
Cistaceae Rock-rose family Helianthemum salicifolium 3 Sunrose, rockrose Annual Leaves
Reference URL: http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Helianthemum_salicifolium
Substitutes: Rockroses are common in Europe, rushroses are prevelent in California
Cleomaeae Brassicaceae family[7] Cleome arabica 3   Annual Flowers & buds
Reference URL: http://plants.jstor.org/upwta/1_634
Notes: Leaves possible diuretic.
Substitutes: Other cleomes are found in California & Western N. America: golden bee plant, golden spiderflower, Navajo spinach
Convolvulaceae Morning glory family Convolvulus lanatus [8] 2 bindweed, morning glory Perennial Buds, tender leaves
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convolvulus
Notes: Some species are considered somewhat toxic and contain psychodelic properties
Substitutes: Invasive in US. Sweet potato shoots may be edible
Convolvulaceae Morning glory family Convolvulus oxyphyllus 1 bindweed, morning glory Perennial Buds, tender leaves
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convolvulus
Notes: Some species are considered somewhat toxic and contain psychodelic properties
Substitutes: Invasive in US. Sweet potato shoots may be edible
Cucurbitaceae Melon family, gourd family Citrullus colocynthis[9] 3 colocynth, bitter apple, bitter cucumber Annual Few seeds
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colocynth
Notes: Seed rich in fat and protein
Ephedraceae   Ephedra alata 3   Perennial Buds
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephedra_alata
Notes: Contains medicinal compound ephedra, which can cause dangerous side effects. North American ephedras like "mormon tea" lack these alkaloids
Substitutes: Jointfir, desert tea, Mormon tea
Euphorbiaceae   Chrozophora tinctoria     Annual  
Fabaceae Legume family Alhagi graecorum 1 manna plant, manna tree, camelthorn Perennial Flowers & buds
Reference URL: http://zipcodezoo.com/Plants/A/Alhagi_graecorum/
Notes: deepest root system of any plant
Substitutes: Sainfoin, Utah sweetvetch are in same tribe as camelthorn within Fabaceae
Fabaceae Legume family Astragalus vogelii 2 milkvetch, locoweed (N. America species) Perennial Tender leaves & pods
Reference URL: http://plants.jstor.org/upwta/3_389
Notes: Swainsonine phytotoxin in some species http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/locoweed/astrag1.html
Substitutes: Old World species may have less toxic properties than New World species (locoweeds)
Fabaceae Legume family Astragalus spinosus 3 milkvetch, locoweed (N. America species) Perennial Leaves
Reference URL: http://www.csbe.org/water_conserving_landscapes/plant_lists/natives/astragalus-spinosus.htm
Notes: Swainsonine phytotoxin in some species http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/locoweed/astrag1.html
Substitutes: Old World species may have less toxic properties than New World species (locoweeds)
Fabaceae Legume family Cassia senna   Senna Perennial  
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senna_alexandrina
Lamiaceae Mint family Teucrium oliverianum 1 germander Annual Flowers & leaves
Reference URL: http://zipcodezoo.com/Plants/t/teucrium_oliverianum/
Substitutes: T. Chamaedrys or T. Canadense
Neuradaceae Malvales family Neurada procumbens 1   Annual Shoots & fruits
Reference URL: http://plants.jstor.org/upwta/4_396
Substitutes: Other well-known members of Malvales in the APG II sense are daphnes, hibiscus, hollyhocks, okra, baobab trees, cotton, and kapok. Hibiscus and hollyhocks are eaten by Uromastyx in captivity.
Nitrariaceae   Nitraria retusa     Perennial  
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitraria_retusa
Nitrariaceae   Peganum harmala   harmal, syrian rue Perennial  
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peganum_harmala
Notes: Recently reclassified from Zygophyllaceae family
Substitutes: See entries for Zygophyllaceae
Orobanchaceae Broomrape family Orobanche aegyptiaca 2 Egyptian broomrape Annual Shoots
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orobanche_aegyptiaca
Notes: Parasite of sunflowers
Substitutes: California broomrape parasitizes sagebrush, which is another NA substitute for a native Uromastyx favorite Artemisia sp.
Orobanchaceae Broomrape family Cistanche phelypaea     Annual  
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cistanche
Notes: Parasite of sunflowers
Substitutes: California broomrape parasitizes sagebrush, which is another NA substitute for a native Uromastyx favorite Artemisia sp.
Poaceae True grass family, aka Gramineae Aeluropus lagopoides 1   Perennial Shoots & spikes
Reference URL: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=250071769
Substitutes: Genus Poa: bluegrass, meadowgrass
Poaceae True grass family, aka Gramineae Aristida pennie 2 wiregrass Perennial Shoots & spikes
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristida
Substitutes: Aristida stricta wire grass
Poaceae True grass family, aka Gramineae Cutandia sp.     Annual  
Poaceae True grass family, aka Gramineae Panicum turgidum 1 Turgid panic grass, taman, tuman Perennial Shoots & spikes
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panicum_turgidum
Substitutes: Millet grass, switchgrass
Poaceae True grass family, aka Gramineae Schismus arabicus   Arabian schismus Annual  
Poaceae True grass family, aka Gramineae Stipagrostis capensis   bushman grass Annual  
Reference URL: http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/agpc/doc/Gbase/Safricadata/stipzey.htm
Poaceae True grass family, aka Gramineae Stipagrostis obtusa 1   Perennial Shoots & spikes
Reference URL: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?35721
Notes: Possibly toxic to mammals/livestock
Poaceae True grass family, aka Gramineae Stipagrostis plumosa 1 desert grass Perennial Shoots & spikes
Reference URL: http://plants.jstor.org/upwta/2_783
Polygonaceae Knotweed family Polygonium aviculare L.   Common knotgrass Annual  
Reference URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygonum_aviculare
Scrophulariaceae Figwart family Scrophularia hypericifolia 2 figworts Perennial Shoots, buds & fruits
Reference URL: http://flora.huji.ac.il/browse.asp?action=specie&specie=SCRHYP
Substitutes: California figwort (Scrophularia californica)
Solanacea Nightshade family Lycium shawii 2 Arabian boxthorn, wolfberry, "goji" Perennial Shoots, buds & flowers
Reference URL: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=250081281
Notes: Closely related to l. barbarum wolfberry
Substitutes: Due to the toxic nature of Solanaceae, no substitutions outside of the boxthorn genus (Lycium) recommended.
Zygophyllaceae   Fagonia bruguieri 2 fagonbush Perennial Shoots, buds & fruits
Reference URL: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=250064425
Notes: Similar to creosote bush Larrea tridentata
Substitutes: California fagonbush (Fagonia laevis) and sticky fagonbush (Fagonia pachyacantha)
Zygophyllaceae   Fagonia glutinosa 1   Perennial Shoots, buds, flowers & fruits
Reference URL: http://flora.huji.ac.il/browse.asp?lang=en&action=specie&specie=FAGGLU&fileid=32971
Substitutes: California fagonbush (Fagonia laevis) and sticky fagonbush (Fagonia pachyacantha)
Zygophyllaceae   Tribulus macropterus / T. longipetalus     Annual  
Reference URL: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=250064453
Zygophyllaceae   Zygophyllum coccineum 3   Perennial Shoots, buds & fruits
Reference URL: http://plants.jstor.org/flora/flota000946
Notes: Often confused with Zygophyllum propinquum
Substitutes: Syrian beancaper is an introduced highly invasive weed in Western NA.
Primary Source, 2001 study: http://qspace.qu.edu.qa/bitstream/handle/10576/10234/070121-0008-fulltext.pdf?sequence=4

Notes:

Some misspellings were detected and corrected:

  • Moltkiopsis for Moltokiopsis
  • Helianthemum for Halianthemum

Reclassified the following:

  • Several grasses into the grass family instead of Euphorbiaceae
  • Peganum harmala to family Nitrariaceae from Zygophyllaceae
  • Salicornia europaea to Amaranthaceae from Chenopodiaceae
  • Chenopodiaceae subfamily into Amaranthaceae

Renamed the following taxa to be more current:

  • Leguminosae to Fabaceae
  • Compositae to Asteraceae
  • Cruciferae to Brassicaceae
  • Gramineae to Poaceae

Other sources:

The following were reported to be native foods for Uromastyx, but as preference and parts data was not included, we did not include with the above chart.

  • Hawkbit (Leontodon spp.) [Asteraceae family, Cichorieae tribe]
    Substitute: Chicory/Endive (Cichorium endivia)[Asteraceae family, Cichorieae tribe]
  • Saltbush/Orache (Atriplex spp.) [Amaranthaceae family, Chenopodioideae subfamily]
    Substitute: Wheelscale saltbush (Atriplex elegans) NA Southwest
  • Esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima) [Poaceae family]
    Substitute: Desert needle grass (Stipa speciosa)
  • Heliotropes (Heliotropium spp.) [Boraginaceae family] Warning: Toxic!
    Substitute: See Boraginaceae in above chart
  • Broom (Genista spp.) [Fabaceae family, Genisteae tribe]
    Substitute: Brooms are invasive. See Fabaceae in above chart
  • Thyme (Thymus spp.) [Lamiaceae family] Probably T. caespititius
    Substitute: Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Goosefoot (Chenopodium spp.) [Amaranthaceae]
    Substitute: See Amaranthaceae in above chart
  • Ochradenus baccatus Flowers [Brassicaceae family]
    Substitute: Mignonette (Reseda, based on molecular analysis of Orchradenus genus)
  • Acacia flowers, specifically Umbrella Thorn Acacia (Acacia tortilis) [Fabaceae family]
    Substitute: Sweet Acacia (Vachellia farnesiana, formally A. farnesiana) native to Sonoran desert. Acacias are used in many desert landscapes.

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/uromastyx.html
http://uroranch.com/uroranch.com/Danny%20Molco/Uromastyx%20ornatus%20-%20diet.htm research on U. ornatus.

2 thoughts on “Uromastyx Native Plants

  1. Pingback: Building a Uromastyx Garden Part 2: Add Plants | moonvalleyreptiles.com

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