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Sahara Desert Plants and Vegetation

Sahara Desert is the largest desert in the world which occupies 10% of African Continent. In Sahara rainfall is minimal and infrequent; hence the vegetation in this region is very low. Often described as a bleak and barren plain, the Sahara Desert in reality is very beautiful and full of different Sahara Desert plants. Some of the varied plant species here have adapted themselves and survived with notable adaptations.

The Sahara Desert in low-lying areas is saline and as a result plant growth is sparse. The dry weather causes desiccation of plants due to high rate of transpiration and evaporation of water from the leaves. To be able to survive in these extremely harsh and inhospitable conditions, plants need to have certain adaptations like modification of broad leaves into spines to prevent excessive loss of water from the plant body, which is seen in desert plants like cactus. Many of the plants here are ephemeral, with short life cycles that are lived out only after rain. Other plants that can live here year-round, such as those in the genus Euphorbia, are able to take in water when it does rain and then store it for future use.

In the Sahara, the vegetation primarily consists of xerophytes and halophytes, grasses, shrubs, and trees. Desert plants like the African Welwitchsia possess very long roots that penetrate very deep into the earth and help the plant survive in the hot and dry desert conditions. The Sahara desert plants are mostly those plants, which thrive in habitats rich in salts such as semi-deserts, salt marshes and seacoasts. Many desert plants have developed a thick stem that helps them to hold water for a very long time and their spine like leaves also helps them in reducing the water loss through the leaf stomata. Vegetation growth is more concentrated in oases and along riverbeds.

The common desert plants include:
  • Cypress
  • Olive
  • Acacia
  • Artemisia
  • Doum palm
  • Oleander
  • Date palm
  • Thyme
The common types of grasses include:
  • Eragrostis
  • Panicum
  • Aristida