Top 9 Plants Commonly found in Deserts

What is it that sets a desert apart from other landscapes? Yes, it is the ocean of sands everywhere till our eyesight start to ache, the low precipitation and high humidity during the day and the drastic fall in temperature at night. There is something else that sets apart deserts, which is its flora. The desert plants are typically beautiful in their own way, plants which we won’t find anywhere else. These plants are sturdily built to adapt to the toughness and extremity of the desert. But they are beautiful, something so rare that they remain a major tourist attraction. It was tough to put 9 common desert plants in the same list because the variety of plants differs in every desert across the world owing to their different climatic conditions. These 9 plants are the most common and general plants we find in almost every desert. Have a look and enlighten yourself!

9. Elephant Tree


This plant is a rare plant in the US in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park region, Sonoran Desert and also found in the Santa Rosa Mountains and also in some parts of the south western part of the Arizona. This plant is typically designed to adapt to desert climate, with a thick trunk that stores water for days. It is small in size and its branches are quite small in comparison to the size of its trunk. It also stores water in its lower limbs and wood, apart from the trunk. The foliage of the plant is quite lightly distributed which has flat, long, legume like leaves and exist in paired leaflets. The flowers are born as rounded yellow structures in the bud form and slowly blossom into beautiful small, star shaped white or cream colored flowers. Most of the species of this plant are drought deciduous owing to the warm climatic conditions and has leaves throughout the year, except in drought and extreme cold weather.

8. Organ Pipe Cactus


This species of cactus is commonly found in the rocky deserts of Mexico and the US. It has narrow stems that grow straight from a small trunk just above the ground. These stems usually do not grow into branches and spread out but they grow a little every year from the tip of each of the stem. It takes about 150 years for a plant to reach the mature stage. The older plants produce purple or light pink tinted flowers which have a special characteristic. These flowers remain opened during the night and by the time the sun rises, they close again. The fruits these plants produce are said to be tastier than watermelon. They serve as food to the native Americans and are also used as medicines. These plants are pollinated by bats.

7. Desert Sage


Desert Sage is a beautiful shrub that is about 2-3 meters in height. The flowers are deep blue with purple bracts. The striking feature of this plant is that it does not need water ever once it is well established. These shrubs are evergreen plants and are extremely drought resistant. These shrubs conserve the solar energy and blossom it s best during precipitation. These plants too have medicinal properties. Different tribes made infusions of the leaves and stems of the plant as a cure for common cold. These are also used to treat headaches, stomachaches, influenza, pneumonia and various eye problems.

6. Desert Marigold


The desert marigolds belong to the aster family and are commonly found in the south western parts of the US and in Mexico. They are annual and short lived perennial plants which grow between 10 and 30 inches and have very hairy leaves. These hairs help them survive in extreme desert conditions by increasing the reflection of light, which in turn lower the leaf temperatures and also help in blocking UV rays. The flowers these plants grow are bright yellow in colour, hence the name. These spring wild flowers begin blooming in March and stay till November. During rains, these flowers bloom more and the stone slopes they are grown on, look like bright yellow carpets all around. But these flowers are extremely poisonous. Sheep in large numbers have died after grazing on these flowers.

5. Desert Lily


Also known as Hesperocallis, these flowering plants are found in the desert areas of North America, Mexico, California and Arizona. These flowers are funnel-shaped, cream-colored flowers that bloom in March and stay on till May. This plant is a common sight in the deserts. Its leaves are almost an inch wide and grow up to 8-20 inches wide. Appearance wise, the desert lily looks a lot like the Easter lily. The desert lily has a deep bulb which sends a stem in early spring. This bulb is used as a food source by the Native Americans.

4. Desert Willow Tree


Also known as Chilopsis, this is a delicate, small deciduous shrub or tree in the US and Mexico. The flowers bloom in May and stay on till September. The flowers are generally light pink and lavender in color. The throat and lower lip is beautifully designed with yellow ridges and purple lines. These flowers are pollinated by large bees. It occurs in clusters and can withstand arid conditions, which makes this a favorite desert plant.

3. Palm Trees


Palm trees grow in tropical, subtropical hot and humid conditions, as they cannot withstand too much cold. They have a wide variety of species, amounting to over 2,600. They have a long stem, which is unbranched and have a cluster of long leaves at the top of the stem. Palms remain the one of the most cultivated plant till date. Many products, too, are derived from palm trees, hence they are economical. Uses of palm trees to mankind have been enormous. Oil derived from palm trees is edible oil, the palm sap is fermented to produce palm wine, coconut form palm trees, as we all know are beneficial to mankind, the coir from the outer shell of coconuts is used to make brushes, mattresses and ropes.

2. Saguaro


The saguaro belongs to the cactus species. They have a huge lifespan of about 150 years, but their growth depends on the amount of precipitation in the deserts. Their spines grow very rapidly, growing almost a millimeter per day. Their flowers bloom at night and stay from April to June. The flowers are white and yellow in colour. The ruby red fruits are consumed by the locals. They have more than 2000 seeds in each of them which can be easily pollinated. But these fruits cannot be hand picked, owing to the long spines of the tree. They have to be plucked with the help of a long pole.

1. Barrel Cactus


Barrel cactus is the most common plant found in the deserts across the world. Its height can be anything between 1 meter to 10 meters. The buds of this plant grow generally during April and the blossomed flower varies in colour. It can be orange, red, yellow or pink in colour. The spines of the barrel cactus are to be dealt with extreme care because if the spine accidentally pricks, one may have to take antibiotics to counter fight its effect. These plants look very beautiful and are developed in nurseries or personal gardens as an ornamental plant.

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Titli Basu

A film buff by birth, I was born to write. Taking up Journalism as my subject was just a way to nurture that passion. I dream to be a writer someday after having a successful stint as a journalist. Fingers crossed!

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