This may lead you to wonder what’s really growing in one of the largest deserts in North Africa. Keep reading to learn more about what plants you could find in the Sahara.
If you want to know more about why cacti aren’t growing in the Sahara, keep reading to find out.
Why Are There No Cacti In The Sahara?
You likely won’t come across a cactus plant in the Sahara Desert because they are a plant that is native to America. Over the years, cactus plants have been introduced to other areas of the world. The cacti can thrive in summer temperatures and conditions that are similar to an American desert.
The Sahara is a lot drier than the American deserts, and the water loss is a lot more severe for the cactus plants because of the very limited rain.
Most American deserts are closer to mountains, where they are able to receive a small amount of moisture. This is helpful to keep the cacti alive because they have very short roots.
The other desert plants in the Sahara have longer roots that secure themselves in the soil, which helps them survive in such dry conditions.
Another factor about the Sahara desert that makes it a difficult place for cacti to thrive is that the temperature fluctuates a lot. In the span of one day, it could go from 0 to 120 degrees. The temperature is much more consistent in an American desert.
Are There Any Other Plants That Grow In Deserts Besides Cacti?
While the cactus might be the most common plant to see in a desert, it’s not the only type of plant that is capable of growing in desert conditions.
In order to survive in the desert, these plants need to be able to store water or have a very extensive root system. Some other plants that grow in the desert include:
- Desert Trees
- Small Shrubs
- Flowering Bushes
Of course, you would expect to come across plenty of prickly pears and barrel cactus on the other side of the sand dunes, but there is so much more to see growing in the desert.
You may be surprised to find palm trees and beautifully colored flowers among a dry desert.
Yucca can be found in several deserts across the world because it can handle the hot sun and requires very little water.
There are also many succulents, such as agave and aloe vera. Any plants that can withstand hot temperatures and don’t require water could survive in these conditions.
The Truth About What’s Really Growing In The Sahara Desert
You may not come across any prickly pear cactus in the Sahara, but there are still plenty of plants that are capable of thriving in these conditions. One of the most common trees to find in the Sahara is Laperrine’s Olive Tree.
While you may not think an olive tree has the potential to thrive in the desert, this type of tree is highly drought resistant. The doum palm and date palm trees can also be found in the Sahara, both trees needing very little water to provide edible fruit.
The doum palm tree and the date palm tree aren’t the only food-bearing plants in the Sahara. Desert thyme also does very well in these conditions. While desert gourd also grows in the Sahara, only the seeds from these plants are edible. These gourds produce bitter fruit on their vines, but they are poisonous.
One invasive plant that is native to the Sahara is the tobacco tree. While it is a very pretty tree, it is capable of growing under extreme conditions with very little water. These trees look more like plants, and once they get their roots established, they are known to take over.
When it comes to shrubs, one of the most common species found in the Sahara is ephedra alata. They grow to be about one meter tall and have very rigid branches. The ephedra alata does so well in the Sahara because water isn’t necessary for its survival. This shrub is much healthier in a dry climate.
While most cacti plants are non-existent in the Sahara, one type that does have the ability to hold water for a longer period of time is the peyote cactus. This allows them to handle the Sahara conditions.
Do All Deserts Have Cacti?
No, not all desserts have cacti because not all deserts have extreme temperatures. Climate can play a big role in whether or not cacti are able to survive in that area.
Because of the threat of flash floods, some areas do not have any cactus at all. Instead, the roots of these plants would get washed away due to the high amount of water flowing through the area.
Most deserts are located in the Southern Hemisphere and have very little precipitation. I’ve been to the desert many times and it’s not like the movies. Cactus plants have very thick skin, which helps them to store water over long periods of time. Are
While you may not see any prickly pear or beavertail cactus in the Sahara, there are still plenty of plants that are capable of growing in these extremely dry conditions. Any plant that has the ability to store water and can tolerate the hot sun could survive the Sahara. However, the cactus will not survive these conditions.