Ecologist Handbook


Plants that have adapted to live in the desert with its high temperatures, constant winds and lack of moisture are called psammophytes. Almost all of them have small hard leaves. Long, often deep roots and thin stems allow them not only to get moisture from the stratum of sand and preserve it, but also hold them during sandstorms.

Among the desert plants can be found small trees and thin shrubs. Among them are sand acacia, ammodendron, juzgun, broom, caragan, sand saxaul, Persian saxaul (he is white saxaul), calligonum, Kandym, eremosparton, Smirnovia and others. Almost all of them have a developed root system and a number of adventitious buds on the stem. The latter allow them to grow when the main body is covered with sand. A lot of herbs are also found among psammophytes. All of them have either long underground shoots or developed rhizomes. These include selenium and sedge.

Among the desert plants are also many xerophytes and ephemera. Xerophytes - These are plants that can endure high temperatures and a long absence of water. As a separate group of plants xerophytes are divided into:

  • succulents (desert plants, with a superficial root system, able to accumulate water in the stem or leaves), these include agaves, aloe, cacti
  • hemixerophytes (desert plants, with a deep root system reaching the groundwater), these include sage, camel thorn
  • eukserofity (desert plants, with a shallow but branched root system, the leaves are covered with protective fluff), these include all desert species of wormwood
  • poikiloxerofity (desert plants, with a lack of moisture, flowing into anabiosis), these include selenium

Ephemera - these are desert plants, living only one cycle, which for different plants lasts from 1.5 to 8 months. The rest of the time they will remain in the form of a seed. The viability of most seeds reaches 3-7 years. The majority of desert flowers belong to ephemeras: poppy peacocks, spineaceae spike beds, dimorphic quinoids, desert curls, desert bulls, sickle-head horns and others.

According to the method of reproduction, almost all psammophytes are anemophiles, that is, they multiply with the help of wind. For this, many desert plants on the seeds have “wings” (saxaul), “propellers” (sand acacia) or “parachutes” (selenium). When hitting a new place, seeds can grow up to 50 centimeters deep in a few days.

What plants are there in the desert?

  • Shrubs and trees. Usually they are not high. The trunks of the trees can be strongly curved (as in saxaul) and be straight and flexible (as in acacia sand).

The roots of the trees are usually very long and can reach into the depths of 15 meters.

  • Lichens.
  • Saksaul. The saxaul bushes are quite a distance from each other, so that their crowns never touch.

    Camel-thorn. It is able to get moisture from a depth of 30 meters, thanks to which it withstands drought better than most plants and remains always green.

    Herbs. They do not matter much. Mostly in the desert is dominated by plants ephemera.

    It grows in periods when moisture is sufficient. This is especially evident in the spring, when they bloom and form a colorful carpet. The overwhelming majority are large with a stem of only 8 to 10 centimeters.

    Sand sedge (or otherwise Ilaka). It has long intertwining roots that go to a depth of 50 to 70 meters.

    Thus, they make the sand almost immobile.

    Echinocactus Gruzoni. Its uniqueness is that it is the only cactus with which you can get drunk, thereby disguising thirst, because it contains approximately a liter of juice. In height, the plant can reach up to one and a half meters.

    This plant has a very very peculiar outlandish appearance. The shape of its leaves resembles spikes, and star-like flowers are covered with thick hairs.

    The smell emitted by the plant resembles the smell of rotting meat.

    Yeryhonskaya rose. This is a plant with short branches, which, like fingers, pinch their seeds. When it rains, these branches-fingers open and its seeds are in moist soil where they germinate quite quickly.

    Plant grows in the desert, located in southern Africa. Only a few leaves come to the surface, but the root system is full of complex photosynthesis processes. Thanks to them, it can even bloom under the ground.

    I have it all. If you wish, you can go to these links on the subject of nature:

    Desert climate

    Anyone who has ever been in the desert or read about it knows that it is impossible to hide from the hot, scorching sun there. In this place there are practically no hills, casting a shadow. Therefore, it is very important to be properly dressed while visiting the desert:

    1. Use clothes of light colors, the best white.
    2. Hands and feet completely covered with clothing.
    3. Cover the head with a scarf or a special headdress, for example, kufiyu.

    It's no secret that the desert has special climatic conditions. These include:

    1. Heatwave.
    2. Drought.
    3. Sandstorms.
    4. No shadow
    5. Minimum amount of water.
    6. Rare rains (there are also dry rains).

    Not everyone can live in such a climate. This also applies to animals and plants. Only the most unpretentious and adaptable inhabitants of the animal and plant worlds are able to come to terms with such harsh conditions.

    Who lives in the desert?

    A bright representative of the animal world of sandy places is a camel. He is called "ship of the desert". The external feature of this animal, by which it is easy to distinguish it from its fellows, is the presence of a hump. Some camels have one, others have two. It is believed that it is in the hump a camel makes fat reserves, thanks to which it can go without water for up to one month. Thus, it is adapted to living conditions in arid areas.

    The camel is the main symbol of the desert. Therefore, tourists get souvenirs with his image as a souvenir.

    In addition to the camel in the desert you can meet the following representatives of the fauna:

    • Jackals.
    • Lizards
    • Snakes.
    • Foxes.
    • Scorpions
    • Antelope.
    • Kangaroo.
    • The jerboas.
    • Gophers.
    • Ostriches.

    Despite the external differences of these animals, they all share one thing - they are all adapted for life in the desert. Like some plants.

    How do plants adapt to the desert?

    Unlike other places habitable for vegetation, the desert has a dry and hot climate. Not all types of plants are able to live in such conditions.

    Only those who have certain abilities and devices can survive, such as:

    1. Spines. Thanks to them, you can gain a foothold on the sand and make reserves of moisture.
    2. Powerful long roots. Which allow to draw water from underground sources.
    3. Fleshy leaves. They are able to hold moisture for a long time.

    The trees and shrubs that grow in the desert are small in height. Their trunk is either very straight, or, conversely, strongly curved, adjacent to the sands. In order to better retain moisture, the plants are far apart.

    What grows in the desert from plants?

    In fact, the flora of the desert is unusual and diverse. Although at first glance it does not seem so.

    1. The most famous desert plant is cactus. It is a well-known fact that a huge number of cacti species are growing in the desert. They have a different shape, size, flowering method. Cacti grow apart or in families. Moisture, these plants are retained due to their fleshy body and spines. The life expectancy of some species of cacti can reach a hundred or more years.
    2. Another perennial desert plant - baobabwhich is famous for its wide stem of several meters. This plant feeds on groundwater. In order to reduce the amount of moisture needed, during periods of particular drought, the baobab drops its leaves. In autumn, you can watch it bloom.
    3. For the desert is characterized by the presence ephemera - small plants that actively develop, bloom and bear fruit in the wet period. Therefore, when it rains, the desert begins to bloom. This is a very beautiful and fascinating sight.

    Types of plants growing in the desert: a list

    Despite the intense heat and the absence of frequent rains, many plants grow in the desert. They managed to adapt to difficult climate conditions for survival. The names of some of them are well known, for example:

    • Tumbleweed - has the appearance of a spherical bush.
    • Camel-thorn - low shrub and thorny branched stems.
    • Aloe - A plant with green fleshy leaves, with spikes on each side.
    • Saksaul - large shrub. Has leaves in the form of thin needles or has no leaf cover at all.
    • Sand acacia - large shrub with gray-green thin leaves and purple flowers.
    • Jojoba - type of tree, famous for its oil, which is obtained from its fruits. Often used in cosmetology.

    Other types of plants are less familiar to most people:

    Sometimes there are deserts in the oasis, where various herbs grow, such as wormwood, bluegrass and sedge.

    As a rule, all of these types of trees, shrubs, herbs differ in their appearance. But they have common features:

    1. Breed by propagating seeds in the wind.
    2. They are food for desert animals.
    3. Have a powerful root system.
    4. They are adapted to habitat conditions in arid climates, due to their individual characteristics.

    Thus, we found that it grows in the desert except for cacti. They also learned that, regardless of the unproductive soil, the flora of the desert is quite rich and diverse.

    Common misconception

    Meanwhile, the desert and semi-desert actually look completely different. At certain times of the year, they become a real world of wonders and discoveries, covered with flowers and amazing plants. The animal and plant world of these territories is in fact striking in its diversity and uniqueness.

    Of course, among the sands and desiccated clay soils you will not see birches or plantain, but much more amazing plants can be found in this area if you know when and where to look.

    The desert is not always sand

    Before we talk about what plants grow in the deserts, let us pay attention to the infidelity of the stereotype that has developed over the centuries regarding these corners of the globe. Contrary to popular belief, quicksand and hot air are not typical of all deserts. Strange, isn't it? And yet, this is true.

    So, besides traditional sandy (as in Africa), there are clay, rocky and saline semi-deserts and deserts. Naturally, depending on the type of soil, fauna and especially flora will differ significantly.

    World of boulders and cracked earth

    Let's begin, perhaps, with the stony deserts, which at first glance seem to be completely unsuitable for life and even aggressive. In summer, winter and autumn, it is difficult to find at least a small stretch of greenery, but the real ones start with the arrival of spring.

    The harsh land comes to life, filled with colors and life. The flowers of the desert literally dot every boulder, open up and turn this area into a marvelous garden.

    Numerous scree, seeming to be dead before, are overgrown with capers, the snow-white flowers of which resemble more familiar orchids. In the shadow of numerous boulders, wild calendula blooms, filling the wasteland with color and a specific, incomparable scent. Each crack of the earth's surface is filled with greens of juicy lettuce, among which numerous tiny yellow inflorescences are revealed.

    Wherever you look, you can see others and flowers of the desert — astragalus, the grayish leaves of which are slightly lowered to the ground to reduce evaporation. These amazing plants bloom only in spring, and their fancy inflorescences amaze with a variety of forms.

    In the channels of water flows, drying up as the inexorable approach of summer, numerous tulips bloom, decorating the grayish-brown wastelands in purple, scarlet, yellow and pink tones. They are gradually replaced by such desert flowers as wild poppies, during the flowering of which the rocky deserts turn into a real scarlet sea.

    Over all this variety of colors and shades, pistachio trees are gradually rising, gradually filling with life. The buds on them quickly swell in the spring, and in just a few weeks the bare trunks, intertwined with each other, turn into real trees with rich crowns, through which the sky is almost invisible.

    Stony deserts and semi-deserts are a real home for perennial ferrules, the true giants of this world, whose yellowish and greenish blooms accentuate the piercing blue of the sky and the variety of soil shades.

    You can find there and the whole groves of wild pomegranate, prutievidny almonds, which bloom resembles clouds of pale pink. All this riot of colors develops rapidly and inexorably, in two or three weeks to disappear again until next spring. By the middle of April, desert flowers wither, and stony soils give life only to blackberries, holders, and grenades.

    Sand dune world

    A riot of colors and amazing flora can be seen in the spring not only on stony soils, but also among the vast expanses of sand. You will be surprised if you find out what plants grow in deserts of this type. The quaintness of the shapes and colors here is really amazing.

    The Karakums, considered one of the largest Eurasian deserts, are often called “black sands” precisely because of its flora. Camel thorn fields that grow in this area are painted in this color. These thickets alternate with bushes of wild sagebrush, the leaves of which seem to be crushed by grayish ash.

    The miniature sedge of Ilak is a typical desert zone plant. It is this spring that gives these cruel and unfavorable territories green lush cover. For many years, saxaul withstands such conditions, whose height can reach 6-7 meters.

    Particularly stand out against the background of sand dunes are wild acacias with special silver foliage and inflorescences of a rich purple hue.

    There are also other flowering plants of the desert, whose names are striking in their diversity. For example, numerous species of broomrape grow among the sands, the leaves of which do not contain chlorophyll. This amazing plant survives thanks to others, parasitizing on the root system. Flowers broomrape, depending on the type, can have a variety of shades - from purple to bright yellow.

    Salt flats

    On such lands conditions are considered the most cruel and unsuitable for vegetation. All the deserts of Africa and even the Sahara are considered more livable. The fact is that the soil here is supersaturated with salt, which makes impossible the life of most plants. Only halophytes were able to adapt to this aggressive environment.

    On such soils, special types of wormwood, saline asters, salt shrubs, and sausures, and many other plant species grow.

    Clayey desert

    This type is more inherent in the Asian expanses. The flora and fauna of such deserts is also rather poor due to the specificity of the soil.

    Takyry - as they call this area - in the dry season represent a cracked wasteland, where it is almost impossible to find at least one green patch of land. Plants that take root in such territories have a very developed root system, thanks to which they are able to extract moisture from the depths. A typical example of such desert endurance is hodgepodge.

    The period in which clayey deserts come to life also falls in the spring, when the soil is saturated with moisture, eroded and becomes more pliable. Basically, ephemera and ephemeroids take root in such areas. The first live only one year and bloom only a few weeks, while conditions allow. Ephemeroids are perennial plants, their seeds and bulbs are more adapted to the specifics of the soil and climate.

    And in Russia there are deserts

    As a rule, when mentioning deserts, the Sahara, Kalahari and Gobi come to mind, and not everyone thinks of Russia at such moments. Basically, the native land is associated with taiga and endless snowy expanses.

    Nevertheless, this phenomenon is completely alien to our country. The desert in Russia is much richer in the plant world than can be imagined. Do not believe? Read on!

    Oddly enough, one of the Russian deserts stretches only 800 km from the capital. Archedinsko-Don Sands - this is the name of the local wasteland. Most of this territory is covered with sandy massifs, left from the time of the Ice Age Don.

    Desert plants in Russia make this area truly unique of its kind - birch bushes stretch among the sand mounds, black alder and aspen grow. Juniper, a special kind of sabelnik and buckthorn are found here. Есть и саксаулы, распространенные на пустынных территориях по всему миру.

    Весной в особенно влажных районах пустыни расцветают многочисленные тюльпаны, и суровая природа превращается в настоящий парад цветов и оттенков. Именно их можно назвать самым ярким акцентом среди пустынной весны.

    Dangerous animals are practically not found here. The most common representatives of the Russian desert fauna are gophers and jerboas. Of the larger animals, saigas are common in this area, and the number of bird species here is truly enormous.

    Where sand is replaced by ice

    Note that the desert in Russia is not only Tsimlyansky and Archedinsko-Don sands. These areas also include the Arctic wastelands, where the heat is replaced by frost. Most of the year, these expanses are covered with a thick layer of ice, and here you can only find moss, which is very resistant to low temperatures. Only at the height of summer, white wastelands are transformed beyond recognition - mosses and lichens acquire new colors, forming green-red carpets. Thawed sacks and some cereals make their way from the frozen soil.

    There are also flowering plants in the deserts of Russia - the foxtail, buttercup, arctic pike, snow-clavier, and even the polar poppy. In some places, the sky-blue forget-me-nots and fluffy white moss appear. The icy, harsh desert during this period turns into a real wonderful world, where the beauty and tumult of life compete with low temperatures and strong winds.

    The diversity of the fauna of the arctic wastelands is more striking - walruses, seals and polar bears coexist here with a huge number of bird species, deer, narwhal and beluga.

    Distant Tropics

    Deserts as such are associated with this territory. Here is the most ancient sandy wasteland - Namib. This tropical desert is absolutely not rich in vegetation, but the local small flora simply amazes with its endurance and ability to adapt to such adverse conditions. Velvichia, the life span of which reaches 1000 years, for the entire time of its existence can grow only two leaves, the dimensions of which, however, are by no means small: length 2-4 m (sometimes up to 8 m) with a width of about one meter. A quiver tree reaches a height of 7 meters, and a nara provides life to all representatives of the fauna in a given area with its reserves of moisture and nutrients.

    Plants that grow in the desert

    In order to endure rather difficult conditions, all the plants of the desert have gone through a way of adaptation, that is, they have adapted to dryness and extremely high temperatures. So, everything that grows in the wastelands can be divided into 3 large groups:

    • phreatophytes - they have developed extremely long roots, which allows them to extract moisture from great depths,
    • xerophytes - they went through physical changes, for example, acquired structures that allow to accumulate moisture,
    • ephemera - the adaptation is based on behavioral adaptations, so to speak, a certain way of life, for example, the activity of these plants falls on a favorable time of year.

    Xerophyte plants

    Barrel cactus, perhaps the most prominent representative of the group. Its height varies from a meter to 10 depending on environmental conditions. By April, he reveals the buds, which can be both orange and creamy white. Interestingly, the thorns covering the body-barrel, contain bacteria at the tip, and therefore an accidental injection of such a thorn can be a serious problem.

    Plants ephemera

    The desert sage is a magnificent shrub whose height often reaches 3 meters. It is surprising that it practically does not need water and is extremely resistant to long-term droughts. Its stems have healing properties and are in great demand. For example, gruel from small stalks saves from pain, problems with eyesight and cold.

    In general, the flora of the desert is very diverse, beautiful and unique in its own way. Therefore, desert plants have a special place in landscape parks.

    It so happened that I encountered desert plants in a completely non-desert country, Germany. When we were in the Berlin Botanical Garden, cacti were just blooming there. Amazing picture: unusually beautiful flowers bloom on fleshy prickly stems. But in the desert all plants are extraordinary.

    Perennial plants

    Cacti - one of the varieties of desert plants. Survival in the harshest conditions of the local climate gives them the opportunity to superficial root system, fleshy stems and lack of leaves. Due to the difference between day and night temperatures, moisture condenses in the sands, which is used by cacti plants - succulents for their vital activity. This name was probably met by many lovers of breeding cacti at home.

    From Germany, I brought myself a plant that had fascinated me, there they called it a desert rose for me, and then I found its correct name - a scale-creeper. This lump of dry leaves is another kind of desert flora, which “sleeps” without getting moisture, falls into anabiosis. It calmly lies for months without signs of life, but if it is placed on a wet surface, it opens up, and dry twigs turn green in a few hours.

    There are plants in the desert that have very long roots that go 5-10 deep into the soil, or even more than a meter. They reach the groundwater and feed them their masters. Such plants include, for example, saxaul, forming whole thickets in deserts. Having got rid of leaves in the course of evolution, he retains water in fleshy shoots.

    The same Sahara

    Another tropical desert is the Sahara, where vegetation is more common than in Namibe. In addition to the already mentioned representatives of the flora, here you can find wormwood and other types of unpretentious plants. Oleander and tamarisk grow on the territory of the oases. Date palms and acacia are common in some areas.

    In relatively moisture-rich areas, you can find whole fields of anabasia, similar to countless tiny green stars.

    As for the wildlife of the African desert, here you can find the most amazing creatures. Distributed in the Sahara, for example, horned viper and scarabs, which are considered sacred in some nations. Eared Phenicus, antelopes addaks, camels and yellow scorpions - all this is only a small part of the desert fauna.

    Hosts sands and dunes

    Since we are talking about such a phenomenon as the desert, one can not say about its real owners - the most hardy plants in the world. Of course, it will be about cacti. Their specific shape and root system allow you to retain moisture for as long as possible, which allows normal existence in conditions of rare rains.

    We used to think that the only property and peculiarity of cacti are the thorns, but in fact it is difficult to find a spectacle more amazing than the flowering of these plants. This happens in the spring, when rains pour on the hot sand and the soil is saturated with moisture.

    During this period, undersized prickly pears light up with crimson lights and the green-yellow tassels of the agave bloom. Yellow, green, pink and white flowers flaunt on these prickly representatives of desert flora everywhere.

    The driest desert

    Atacama is currently considered the driest in the world. For several years there is no precipitation here, and therefore the flowering periods are especially unique. Gray-reddish soils are usually instantly transformed in order to return to their former condition within a week.

    During the period of showers, whole fields are dotted with bright purple flowers of desert vervain. Add color to this range of stunted vernerii, Ramera's saber and bright yellow scrap.

    More than 200 species of animals, birds and reptiles live here, despite the brutal habitat conditions. For example, vicunas (a special subspecies of llamas) and viscats (small chinchillas with long tails) are common on the territory of the Atacama.

    California Death Valley

    Mojave is a desert whose plants and animals are quite diverse. Despite the awesome name, this part of California is not so lifeless. For example, there are quite common tree yucca and creosote bushes, whose flowers in their shades vary from white to bright yellow, depending on the species.

    In some areas, coleogine is widespread, the blooming of which is very diverse both in terms of tone and form. Teresken, also called desert buckwheat, is also found in more or less humid parts of the desert quite often.

    Bright red, almost orange candles ignite Okotiyo spring, the inflorescences of which rise high above the surface covered with shrubs Mojave. At the same time, numerous burro shrubs flourish. Individually, the flowers of this plant are somewhat similar to mustard ones, but hundreds of such light-yellow buds bloom on each branch, which makes the bush a little visually fluffy.

    Amazing land - desert. The plants and animals here are truly unique. It is even difficult to imagine how rich and diverse this paradise is, the existing short moment.

    Violet, red, orange, yellow, white and pistachio - all these are the colors that Mojave is painted in in the spring so that in a few days it can again become arid and grayish-red until the next showers.


  • zoo-club-org