Plant Life in the Taklimakan Desert
The Taklimakan Desert is one of the most extreme environment(s) on Earth, which has rare rainfall, violent sandstorms and the temperature change up to 20oC (68oF) every day. It is located in Northwestern China and had a wide size about 337,600 square kilometres (130,300 square miles).
There are several plants species thrive freely in the Taklimakan Desert. 85% of The Taklimakan Desert are covered by 250 meter3 high sand dunes and transform constantly between the open desert and oasis. This condition forces all the plants to adapt well.
There are three Taklimakan plants: Populus euphratica, Tamarix ramosissima, and Alhagi sparsifolia which can upstand strongly to confront scorching summer, frigid winter, drought, and high salt concentration. They have been adapting well by recovering their condition quickly. They perform divergent profile vegetation that has a unique mechanism to survive. The plants are attracting water as much as they can and minimising evaporation at the same time.
Populus eupharatica, The Euphrates poplar, struggle by having a long root system that can reach water miles away. This plant only opens the stomata while photosynthesis at the day, aiming to reduce moisture loss.
P. euphratica may face high-level of salt in the soil. Unlimited salt concentration through the root to the stem and enter into the leaves. The plant produces a large number and volume of its cells to dilute the salt.
Tamarix ramosissima usually called tamarisk or salt cedar is a small tree with small, sharp leaves. Tamarisk absorbs a huge amount of water by a far-reaching root system that has a double size of the upper plant. Tamarisk manages their decisive time to close and open the stomata to prevent evaporation.
As a salt-tolerant plant, Tamarisk also produces its own salt that will be collected in special glands between leaves and then release onto life surface. Leaves falling down to the ground could affect the soil more saline.
Alhagi sparsifolia is a spiny shrub has a tiny root which can reach water down deeper than the others. A. sparsifolia does a hydraulic conductance system to bring up the groundwater.
Even though desert plant could survive around the extreme condition, they need some help to preserve their sand dunes to be stable, avoiding erosion, presenting a barrier to sandstorm and protecting biodiversity.