People often associate Roses and Lilies with beauty and grace. That’s what you’d find lovers gifting each other. What you probably won’t find lovers gifting each other are desert trees and plants. Nope. I suppose they don’t look as colourful and pretty. However, these much under-appreciated desert trees are often the toughest, most independent plants and trees out there. They are sturdily built and can withstand the most difficult circumstances, and don’t need constant looking after like roses.
Even though these might not have those signature curls and colours, they come with their own kind of rigid beauty, standing tall and firm in oceans of the desert wasteland. A constant symbol of perseverance. It is this rigid grace of these trees in the desert which has made them a signature tourist attraction. Different deserts around the world bear different fauna. However, there are a couple of common plants and trees that can be found in most deserts.
Here’s a list of some of the desert trees and plants that are commonly found in Desert Areas
1. Elephant Tree – Desert Tree
This is quite a rare tree found in the US, notably in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Sonoran Desert, and the Santa Rosa Mountains. This plant is typically made for harsh desert climates with a really thick trunk with a water retention capacity of several days. While the trunks are large, their branches are relatively small in size, as is the overall height.
It can also store water in the lower limbs. The leaves on the tree are sparse and far in between, shaped long, flat and existing in pairs. The flowers eventually grow into star-shaped off-white nature but generally start off as small buds.
2. Organ Pipe Cactus – Desert Plant
These are commonly found in the deserts of Mexico and the US and are named so accurately, considering they exist in long and firm clumps, with a broad base and a gentle taper towards the end. Its entire body is actually one large and firm stem, with the trunk just at the bottom.
These old and firm plants reach their full maturity in 150 years. The really old plants out of these have a special characteristic wherein they give bloom to small pink-tinted flowers that bloom only at night and close up by the dawn of light. While bees and insects pollinate most plants, these are pollinated by bats.
3. Sage – Desert Plant
About 2 to 3 meters in height, these are desert shrubs with deep blue and purple bracts. These are evergreen, and they have amazing water retention capacities such that once they’ve matured, they no longer need water.
They also retain solar energy and blossom in their full bloom due to precipitation. These can also be used medicinally, and several tribes used to, and many still do, use infusions of its stems and leaves to cure headaches and the common cold.
4. Marigold – Desert Plant
Commonly found in the southwestern areas of the US and Mexico, these belong to the Aster family and have a bright yellow appearance, a large bulb bearing an internal sun-like orb surrounded by closely bound yellow petals.
They have very hairy leaves and grow to a height of 10 to 30 inches, and live for a short period of time, blooming perennially. These can survive in desert climates due to the hairy leaves, which reflect the direct sun rays keeping their internal temperature relatively cool and blocking the UV rays.
5. Lily – Desert Plant
These are commonly found in Arizona, California, Mexico and North America deserts. Funnel-shaped and cream-coloured, these can be found in full bloom from March to May.
The bulb of this plant is thick and deep and is often used by Native Americans as a food source. Its biological name is Hesperocallis.
6. Desert Willow Tree
Found in the US and Mexico, this is a deciduous tree that is both delicate and small. They are in full bloom from May to September, and their dense green foliage bears light-pink clumps of flowers.
The flowers’ throat and tip are generally yellow and have purple lines running down their insides. Pollination generally occurs with the aid of large bees. Small as they may be, they are entirely capable of withstanding the aridest of conditions.
7. Palm – Desert Trees
These don’t need much of an intro. They look beautiful tall, and majestic, and you’ve probably seen them flanking the streets of Miami and desert beach resorts. They are generally grown in subtropical, tropical or humid conditions.
They have a long, straight trunk which shoots up to the sky without any flanking branches and at the very top, they have a cluster of long leaves. These are also really economical because they can be used for various products like edible oil, palm saps, and coconuts. Furthermore, the coir or the hair of the outer shell of coconuts is commonly used to make brushes and ropes.
8. Saguaro – Desert Tree
These are quick-growing flowers of the cactus species, which generally last about 150 years, depending on the degree of precipitation in the atmosphere. They can grow about an entire millimetre a day, and their flowers bloom at night from April to June.
They bear both flowers and fruits — the former being white and yellow and the latter being used as a fruit by locals. These also spread around quite fast and are easily pollinated because they have over 2000 seeds inside the fruits, which can be spread around quite a lot.
9. Barrel Cactus – Desert Plant
These are one of the most common desert plants. They have a really short height of just about 1 to 10 meters. Their buds bloom in April, and the flowers can take up a variety of colours and shades.
However, these have to be handled with care because their spine is covered in thorns that are quite lethal, and a single prick could have you taking several antibiotics to make the effect subside.
10. Coastal Agave – Desert Plant
These can be commonly found along the road to Mexico and are native to California. They can either be used as a water source, for plant fibres, or even eaten when young.
They are one of the oldest plant species available in all of Baja.
I am sure you did not expect such colour in the desert. Well, nature is wonderful, considering how desert trees can be tough yet beautiful.