Tetraclinis, arar, araar, sictus tree (Eng), araar, sabina de Cartagena (Spa), xiprer quadrivalve (Cat).
DID YOU KNOW...? This is probably the scarcest naturally occurring tree on the Iberian Peninsula.
This evergreen tree can reach 15 m in height. The trunk is straight with grooved, brown or ash grey bark. The twigs have a delicate appearance, they are somewhat flattened and stick out in all directions, giving them a jointed, or articulated appearance, as its Latin name suggests. The small leaves are shaped like elongated scales, similar to those of cypress trees. This species blooms in autumn or winter and has male and female cones on the same plant. The male cones are located at the end of the twigs and have pollen-bearing scales. The female cones are made up of four parts (valves). These ripen in the summer of the following year, and inside are 3 or 4 seeds that have double wings to aid their dispersal by wind.
This species grows in very dry, semi-arid, and sunny places in a mild climate, forming very open forests or mixing with Aleppo pines, European fan palms, olive trees, mastics, kermes oaks, junipers and other species that have a similar ecology. It lives on slopes, in ravines and on scree, on any soil type, whether it is well developed or not, although it usually prefers calcareous substrates with little clay in well drained areas. It grows from sea level up to altitudes of 1800 m in sunny areas. It is a very long-lived species that resprouts well from the stump.
This tree is restricted to the islands of Malta and Cyprus, southern Spain and northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia), and is most abundant in this latter region. It is very scarce on the Iberian Peninsula and there are a few specimens in the Cartagena mountains and the La Unión mining area in Murcia. However, the fossil record shows that previously its range must have been much more extensive; currently it has been introduced and naturalised in certain places in Alicante: Guardamar and the Callosa range.