Desert vegetation

Umbrella Thorn Acacia

Doum Palm

Tumbling Anise

Desert Tulip

​Villous Campion

Desert Pancratium

​Athel Tamarisk

​Persian Fritillary

​Sodom Apple

Spiny Zilla

Desert Cistanche

Arava Tamarisk

Desert Spike

​Violet Cistanche

Pink Sun-rose

​True Rose of Jericho

Pomegranate

​Euphrates Poplar

Common Date Palm

Desert vegetation

Half of Israel וs covered by a sprawling desert. Israel is located at the edge of the Sahara and the Arabian deserts, as well as, botanically speaking, at the tip of Africa. Many plants that welcome the savanna heat and thrive along the East African rivers have migrated northward to Israel along the Syrian-African Rift Valley. They settled in suitable habitats along the shores of the Red Sea, the Arava Valley, the Dead Sea and the lower Jordan Valley. Israel is also a showcase of plants originating in the cold deserts of Central Asia and Asia Minor, as the Irano-Turanian region almost reaches Israel and actually disappears here. The desert is a region characterized by a long, hot, dry summer, and a short winter with little rainfall, averaging less than 200mm a year. Two additional characteristics associated with the desert are strong solar radiation and random volatile rainstorms. It is not unusual that after several dry years, an especially wet year can occur. It is difficult to forecast when the next rains will reach the desert. These difficult, arid conditions are a challenge to surviving desert plants. In general, there is a small variety of plants found in the desert. Each plant has the remarkable ability to adjust and survive the long dry spells. They are equipped with a number of unique mechanisms that enable them to survive in harsh conditions and retain water. The main limiting factor in the desert is the lack of water available to the plant. The plants need the capability to take advantage of what little rainfalls and the ability to retain water during long dry periods. Another issue to contend with in the desert is the high salt content in the soil. The rain that falls is usually not enough to cleanse the soil or push the salt deeper into the desert land. Effectively, the rains repeatedly wet the top layers of soil which repeatedly dries, increasing the mineral content accumulated by rainwater and which remains in uppermost layers of soil. One characteristic that assists desert plants is that they have small or no leaves. The small leaf surface area reduces water loss caused by evaporation. Another feature that aids in plant survival is the tremendous water retention capability of both plant leaves and stems. In addition to the ability to store water during long dry spells, plants need to be able to desalinate water. The fleshy body of the succulent plant helps dilute the salts absorbed by the plant, enabling respiration, photosynthesis and other life processes, all sensitive to high salinity. Hairs along the plant's surface are also an adaption to desert conditions. The hairs help isolate the plant's body from its harsh surroundings and actually shade the plant, reducing temperatures and water loss. Desert plant hairs are usually bright, white or silvery. The bright colors help reflect solar radiation, reduce plant surface heat and improve water retention. Some desert plants have additional adaptive features: the plant is divided into modular units. During the arid season, select units become dry, wither and fall off taking with them excess concentration of salts. The main body of the plant remains vital. Full or partial dormancy of many plants allows them to survive during the waterless season. Some plants survive dry periods in seed form, while others survive as smaller versions of themselves only to sprout and bloom after the rain.