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The Desert Rose
Ithra Curiosities

The Desert Rose

The Desert Rose

Photograph from Nora Al-Taha.

By Nora Al-Taha
October 20th, 2021

In deserts, we can find wild animals scurrying in the sand and unique plants growing in the vastness beneath the sunlight. With different flowers blooming in the barren lands, a certain rose with a unique structure blossoms. Amongst these beautiful attributes to the wilderness, petal-like folds of crystal create the fascinating ‘desert rose.’ Formed by winds and erosion in wet sand, this eccentric flower—made entirely of crystallized clusters of gypsum or barite—is the largest piece in Ithra’s museum collections. This Saudi desert

rose was donated on January 16, 2012. On the coast of the Eastern Province, south of Dhahran, salt flats called ‘sabkhas’ are home to these sand roses. They are found buried under the sand; one must dig one to three feet below the surface to extract them. Desert roses bask in their full form as they shape themselves into unique single rosettes or large clusters, shading in hues of light grey to dark grey and brown. As deserts offer mysterious new splendors, the desert rose is one of the desert's exclusive treasured gifts.

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