In my 3 months of being in Saudi Arabia I have seen these Sand Roses several times. I first saw them visiting a lady's house when I first came and the sucker was huge like the size of a large red wagon that you pull your children on. I saw them again in a tourist/home decor/gift shoppe but they were expensive! Then I saw MANY of them again when I went to my friend Brenda's house whom I met in the Dhahran Oasis Quilt Guild . We were in her backyard drinking tea one day and these Sand Roses were everywhere! All shapes & sizes from the small lemon size to really large ones about the size of beach balls! Intrigued, I asked about them. They are naturally formed in the sand about a meter down. Gypsum is a common mineral (CaSO4 + 2 H2O) that is dissolved in the sea water, and crystallizes by the concentration calcium sulfate through evaporation. At some rare locations, it crystallizes into the form of Sand Roses. Some Sand Roses are clustered, as seen below. Some are in Single Buds. Some are roundish and some are sort of flat disk like. They can have sharp edges.
THESE ARE 2 LARGE ONES THAT WERE ON BRENDA'S PATIO.
THIS IS WHAT WIKIPEDIA SAYS ABOUT SAND ROSES:Desert rose is the colloquial name given to rosette formations of the minerals gypsum and barite with poikilotopic sand inclusions. The 'petals' are crystals flattened on the c crystallographic axis, fanning open along characteristic gypsum cleavage planes.
The rosette crystal habit tends to occur when the crystals form in arid sandy conditions, such as the evaporation of a shallow salt basin. Gypsum roses usually have better defined, sharper edges than barite roses.
The desert rose may also be known by the names:
One of the ladies in the Dhahran Oasis Quilt Guild by the name of Ethel has several of these in her yard too. She offered to give me some of the small ones that she had. I plan to give them in my gift packs to friends here in the US. I'm keeping the largest one though, it's about the size of a baseball.