Rhigozum trichotomum is an erect, deciduous shrub, usually growing 1 - 2 metres tall but exceptionally to 4 metres. The stems typically branch in threes and terminate in spine-like tips[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local medicinal use. It rapidly invades overgrazed land, helping to protect the soil and providing conditions for other native plants to germinate and grow.
Southern Africa - southern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, S. Africa.
Arid areas in grasslands, along riverbeds and pan fringes[
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A plant of the arid and semi-arid lowland tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 35°c, but can tolerate 10 - 45°c[
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -10°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 150 - 300mm, but tolerates 50 - 350mm[
Requires a sunny position[
]. Grows in the wild on well-drained sandy and calcareous soils[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5 - 8[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
]. Tolerant of strong winds[
The plant spreads very effectively by means of vegetative propagation; it can escape from cultivation and become a weed[
]. Unpalatable to browsing animals, it is becoming increasingly invasive in arid rangelands as a result of overgrazing[
Young roots are chewed as a remedy for diarrhoea[
Mismanagement and overgrazing initiate the multiplication of this species in areas which would otherwise be denuded of vegetation. In these situations it ensures a plant cover which protects the soil from wind and water erosion, and provides sheltered sites for the establishment of seedlings[
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