June 10 – August 10, 2019
Two vibrating walls with attached palm tree leaves and a flickering lightbulb.
Medemia was discovered in the early 1800s, not as a living palm, but as an archaeological relic from the ancient tombs of Egypt – a fruit given as an offering to the dead. The archeological samples were connected to the living palm tree around 60 years later. It was reported that Bedouin of the Ababda and Bisharian tribes call the palm Argun and harvest its leaves for making rope. Palm was classified as genus Medemia in the late 19th century. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, only sporadic sightings of Medemia were reported by explorers active in northern Sudan, and some specimens were also collected.
The renowned Egyptian botanist Loutfy Boulos was the first to champion Medemia as “a member of the modern Egyptian flora.” Boulos visited Dungul Oasis in November 1963, a remote and uninhabited site in the Nubian Desert west of the Nile, 160 km southwest of Aswan. The group discovered one tall female tree and seven juveniles. The paper written by Boulos put Medemia on the map in Egypt and contained the first published images of the palm alive in the wild. On more recent expedition in 1998 by researchers from South Valley University, Aswan it was found that the tall mother tree that had been so handsomely illustrated by Boulos was dead, its crown blown off and its trunk still standing to 10 m. However, the juveniles that Boulos had reported were healthy and had grown to more than 3 m with one reproductive female and four reproductive males. Moreover, 29 new juveniles of various sizes were found. In about 35 years, the Medemia population size in Dungul had grown from eight to 36. (Ibrahim & Baker: Medemia argun – Past, Present, Future; in Palms, Vol. 53(1) 2009)