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Sahara Desert Plants

The Sahara Desert is often considered bereft of life.  But enough Sahara desert plants exist to make this thought untrue. 

It's not a matter of enough water, or too much heat during the day and cold at night, but a matter of how life has found a way to adapt to and survive in this unusual environment.

Some aquatic plants persist in the same way as do annual plants, with dormant stages in their life history that are stimulated to develop by occasional sufficient rainfall. Although being a desert area, one can notice annual rainfall in many regions of this vast land area.

Many people don't realize that after the last ice age the Sahara Desert was quite a different place than it is today.  The types of Sahara desert plants that existed there received much more moisture.  Not only do the plants there survive with little moisture, a lot of moisture would actually kill them.  It's like people who live in cold climates.  The cold may look difficult, but they would die in a warmer environment.

Sahara desert plants include common plants like shrubs and grass.  Since grass grows over such a large area and has an easier time of finding water.  The grasses in the desert won't become sick and green like they would in a suburban yard, but they do okay.  The same can be said of the trees that don't grow wide leaves.

Sahara desert plants don't often have wide leaves because there's too much surface area there.  Evaporation is an enemy in the desert.  Plants would soon die if their moisture flew off into the atmosphere.  Wide leaves provide too much surface for evaporation.  There is much less evaporation on needles or spines.  For a similar reason cactus have thick trunks, so the water within is further from the surface where evaporation takes place.  Hanging onto every drop of available moisture is most important.



Sahara desert plants also have to survive in soil that's full of salt.  Thus many of the plants in the desert are halphytes, which are plants that can tolerate high salt concentrations.

The Sahara Desert, as do hot deserts in general, presents a number of challenges for plants that grow there.  Yet many Sahara desert plants grow and even thrive.