Plants in the Thar Desert

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Commonly known as the Great Indian Desert, the Thar Desert in northwest India is considered the seventh largest desert in the world, comprising a total of 77,220 square miles, according to Indianetzone. Although the desert is very inhospitable to plants and animals, a number of hardy flora species do survive in its harsh, windy climate. Populations of these plants occur mostly in scattered clumps that increase with the arrival of rainfall.

Acacia Jacquemontii

  • This erect desert shrub can reach a height of 10 feet when fully grown and has multiple shoots that extend from its root structure. Like all Thar Desert plants, acacia jacquemontii is extremely hardy and able to tolerate high winds, extreme temperatures and long droughts. Between February and May the acacia jacquemontii sprouts sweet-scented yellow flowers. This plant's fast growing taproots enable it to extract moisture from the lower soil layers and stay green throughout the dry season.

Calligonum Polygonoides

  • This small green shrub is found in the Thar Desert and grows in dense thickets between 4 and 6 feet tall and between 1 and 2 feet wide. This frost-hardy plant can withstand high winds and extremely dry soil. People in the region use calligonum polygonoides to feed livestock, make charcoal and prepare the Indian condiment known as raita. Calligonum polygonoides buds are also eaten with salt and buttermilk, and its flowers can be used to make bread. Overgrazing and sand mining have put the calligonum polygonoides under threat in recent years.

Dactyloctenium Scindicum

  • Dactyloctenium scindicum is a mat-forming perennial shrub commonly found in the Thar Desert. The plant grows between 2.76 and 17.72 inches tall and produces leaves that are 0.4 to 4.3 inches long and 0.06 to 0.1 inches wide. Dactyloctenium scindicum also produces small flowered spikelets between 0.16 and 0.31 inches long. The altitude range for the dactyloctenium scindicum is between 197 and 2,723 feet. This plant grows primarily in sandy soils found in brushland and dry grasslands throughout the Thar Desert region.

Roheda

  • Commonly known as honey tree, desert teak or marwar teak, this deciduous, nearly evergreen tree grows on hill slopes, sand dunes and ravines throughout the Thar Desert region. Its narrow, sword-shaped leaves grow between 2 and 4.72 inches long. Roheda also produces tubular orange, yellow and red flowers that appear in the springtime. People in the region mainly use roheda for timber, firewood and charcoal. Its leaves, flowers and fruit also provide food for goats, sheep and camels. The plant also has medicinal benefits and is used to treat syphilis, urinary infections, gonorrhea, liver diseases, leucoderma, enlargement of the spleen and abscess.

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