Although it may seem like a barren, rocky wasteland, the Gobi Desert harbors some sparse plant life. The extremely low level of annual rainfall still provides enough moisture for a few desert plants to survive the otherwise harsh environment.
The saxaul tree is perhaps the most important plant in the Gobi. This remarkable tree is one of the only sources of water available in the midst of rock and sand. Water reserves collect behind the tree’s bark, allowing both humans and animals to harvest the moisture. The bark may even be squeezed, yielding more precious water.
However, the saxaul is not the only plant that survives in the world’s fifth largest desert. While the saxaul tree provides much needed water to Gobi’s animal life, wild onions offer that same fauna a food source. These wild onions even offer a supply source to humans traveling over the Gobi Desert. Many people have described these onions as having a distinct hazelnut type of flavor.
Beyond sources of food and water, Gobi also hosts a few species of desert shrubbery and grass. Convolvulus and tamarix are two such shrubs, both of which can survive the temperature extremes and low rainfall of the desert while adding a bit of color to the scenery. Small patches of needle and bridle grass also dot the rocky landscape.
One plant is unique to a specific area of the Gobi Desert: Saltwort. This weed-like plant has an extremely high tolerance to salt, making it the ideal plant life to thrive in the least vegetative area of the region, the Salt Desert. The salt content of this area of the Gobi is so high that it prevents most other plant life from surviving.
Plants, animals, and even humans can find ways to survive the extreme landscape and temperatures of the Gobi desert. The Gobi is arguably one of the harshest environments on the planet, but life still finds a way to exist there.