Top 10 most mysterious desert plants

The climate of surroundings plays a significant role in the growth of every species of plant. A desert is a land area that is very dry because it gains only low amounts of precipitation. Living conditions in the desert are hostile to plant and animal life. You can see every desert plants used some unnatural behavior to grow in such a harsh environment. Here we are discussed about the list of the ten most mysterious desert plants.

10 Wollemi Pine

wollemi pine
Wollemi pine in the Royal Horticultural Society garden, at the RHS Hyde Hall, in Rettendon, Essex, England.

Wollemi pine is also known as a living fossil, one of the world’s rarest plant species. This uncommon plant can only see in the desert area of Australia. Wollemi Pine has a mysterious appearance, and its stem has a bubbling shape in nature. This evergreen tree is reaching a height of 82–131 ft.

The Conifer has attractive, unusual dark green foliage. The leaves of Wollemi pine vary from bright lime green on younger foliage while apple green on mature foliage. Brown, knobbly, spongy bark covered the Wollemi pine’s unique trunk. Experts found wild-growing trees infected with Phytophthora cinnamomi.

The oldest trees are 40 meters in height in the wild and maybe more than 1000 years old. This mysterious desert plant is also one of the world’s oldest plant species belonging to 200 million years of family. Wollemi pine has the power to survive even with a temperature of -12 degrees celsius. Each plant of Wollemi pine has both male and female cones within it.

9 Silver Torch Cactus

silver torch cactus
Silver Torch Cactus
Image credit: Rennett Stowe/Flickr

Silver Torch Cactus is native to Bolivia and Argentina, also called a wooly torch because of its unusual structure. We can find it as slender, erect, grey-green columns up to a height of 9.8 feet.
The columnar stem has around 25 ribs. Each of the dense bristly white areoles completely covered the columns.

Areoles are supporting the four yellow-brown spines about 1.5 inches long and 20 shorter white radials. They also have 2.5 inches long cylindrical flowers. They prefer free-draining soils, as much strong sunlight, but not high temperatures. Interestingly, they used a temperature of -10 degrees celsius to grow.

They do not flower until cactuses are 10 to 15 years old. Silver torch cactus bloom in late summer, have a cylindrical shape deep red/burgundy flowers. Moreover, Silver torch cacti can also thrive in low-nitrogen soil without facing low nitrogen consequences. Over-watering will make these plants weak and lead to root rot.

8 Desert Ironwood

desert ironwood
Desert Ironwood near Bajada Nature Trail.

Desert ironwood plants can only found within the Sonoran desert in North America. Desert ironwood managed to survive in the dry, harsh environment of the Sonoran desert. This plant has a tree-like structure and shows a resemblance to sweet pea. Desert ironwood has a long life span of 1500 years and indicates its power to survive in a much-challenging desert environment.

It is a slow-growing desert plant, grows up to 25 feet, and has blue and grey color leaves. Desert ironwood also has the power to change the environment around it. The shades of adult desert ironwood bring down temperature up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It drops the leaves in the heavy dry season also starts to bloom from April to June. They bloom pink and white flowers.

Most people considered the Ironwood trees a keystone species in this region because they provide food and shelter for many animals and plants. Their massive, dense wood acts as a shade tree in the desert, also prized for artisanal usages, such as durable wooden sculptures and knife handles as firewood.

7 Baseball Plant

baseball plant
Baseball plant in Fata Morgana Greenhouse, Prague, Troja.

We can see the Baseball plant within the Karoo desert of South Africa, having a scientific name as Euphorbia obesa. This mysterious desert plant exactly looks like a baseball and extinct because of over collection. Baseball plant produces rudiment leaves which have a very short lifespan. They don’t produce spines instead of leaves.

This plant acquires nutrients and water from the ground using its tapering taproot.
It is greenish and has a diameter of 15 cm. It can store water for a long time. The water reservoirs of these plants help them for periods of drought. Moreover, it is also one of the most mysterious desert plants. We can find the flowering buds inside of this desert plant.

Like all Euphorbia, the flowers of this baseball plant are called cyathia. Since this one of the most mysterious desert plants is infrequent globally, national nature conservation protected it. An interesting fact about this baseball plant is that the female and male flowers grow on different plants. They are toxic and can cause acute skin issues. Their over-collection and poaching make them endangered in the wild.

6 Jumping Cholla

jumping cholla
Jumping Cholla Cactus

Jumping Chollaumping cholla, also known as teddy bear cholla, grows in the desert area of South Western parts of the United States and Sonora. The fuzzy, soft, and cuddly branches themselves have given such a name for this desert plant. Jumping cholla covered with silver spines and makes pain once you touched this plant.

Other names for this plant are cholla brincadora, hanging chain cholla, chain fruit cholla, and velas de coyote. Its firmly tuberculate stems are light green. White and pink flowers streaked with lavender. One inch wide flowers are displayed at the pooled tips, blooming from February to March.

Pear-shaped fruit of jumping cholla hangs from the branches. The thick spines of jumping cholla help the plant to survive the heat of the desert. This variety cholla cactus reaches a height of 6 to 15 feet. These mysterious desert plants often propagate via the stem part.

5 Saguaro Cactus

saguaro cactus
A long slender, Saguaro Cactus in Saguaro National Park, Arizona.

Saguaro cactus is an unusual desert plant native to the Mexican Sonora state, the Sonoran desert of Arizona, the Whipple Mountains, and the Imperial County areas of California. It grows up to 25 feet and has several branches in an upward direction in the shape of columns.

This mysterious desert plant has no leaves at all and blooms in the springtime. We can see the saguaro cactus flower as the national flower of Arizona. Saguaro cactus have thick spines within its body, help them to conserve water. They used this stored water as they needed it. So, this process allows the saguaro to survive during the drought period. Saguaro cactus has a long life span of 200 to 250 years.

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They grow in the rocky area of deserts.  These mysterious plants are the largest cactus species in the United States. The flowers are white and waxy, appear from April through June. Flowers required cross-pollination because of their self-incompatible ability. Each red fleshy fruit contains around 2000 seeds. The spines of this plant help them to redirect the wind and cool down the body all time.

4 Hydnora Africana

hydnora africana
Hydnora Africana, Karasburg District, Namibia, 2002.

Hydnora Africana is a most bizarre-looking desert plant native to Africa, also known as jakkalskos or jackal food. No one can quickly identify Hydnora Africana as a plant because of the unnatural physical appearance, similar to fungi. We can find Hydnora Africana, most commonly in southern Africa. This plat is completely leafless and has a deep brown colored flesh stem.

This plant becomes more visible only upon the blooming time. The flowers of hydnora Africana have a spherical shape, brown outside and bright salmon to orange inside. Additionally, these plants do not perform photosynthesis. When mature, the jakkalskos plant’s height above ground, is simply the flower’s size, which typically grows to be 4 to 6 inches tall.

It also produces a pungent odor to attract its pollinators, mostly carrion and dung beetles. They usually have fruit in the soil after flowering, taking up to two years to ripen fully. Each astringent fruit contains about 20,000 seeds. Some animals, including jackals and baboons, commonly ate this edible fruit.  People also harvested and used it as food, medicine, and a good source of tannin.

3 Barrel Cactus

barrel cactus
Close up Golden Barrel Cactus.

Barrel cactus desert plant is native to Southwestern American deserts and the Mojave Desert in southern California. It has an unnatural cylindrical body. Additionally, the Barrel cactus is the largest cacti in American deserts. It has 4 inch sized thick spines within its body. These mysterious desert plants grow up to a height of 10 meters, has a shallow roots system.

Their long spines usually grow along the ribs and can range from yellow to tan to red, depending on the plant’s age and the species. Flowers appear at the plant’s top only after many years. Additionally, it blooms in April with yellowish or orange flowers at the top of the barrel. Interestingly it can live up to 6 years even we took it out of the ground because of stored water.

Barrel cactus also has a long life span of 100 years in a harsh environment. This cactus keeps the water, but the oxalic acid in this water is likely to cause diarrhea problems if ingested when the stomach is empty. Small pineapple-shaped greenish fruit may form after the flowers wilt away from it. The fruit lasts a full calendar year if it is untouched.

2 Baobab tree

baobab tree
Baobab tree

Have you ever wondered about what might have existed on the Earth a million years back? Due to multiple studies, the Baobab tree is one of the world’s longest survivors that lived apart from the demonic dinosaurs. This strange desert tree consists of eight species native to the arid regions of Africa, Arabia, Australia, and Madagascar’s island.

Other exciting names of this tree include ‘boab,’ ‘boaboa,’ ‘upside-down tree,’ ‘bottle tree,’ ‘the tree of life,’ and ‘monkey bread tree.’ The soft and fleshy thick trunk of the Baobab tree makes it distinct. Besides, we can often see the hollows filling it, making it home to a vast range of animals, including various birds, insects, scorpions, lizards, squirrels, tree frogs, snakes, and spiders.

Their spongy, porous bark allows them to conserve water. So, these mysterious desert plants can absorb moisture and as much water as possible in times of rain. Baobab trees used the stored water during times of scarcity or drought. Additionally, The trees grow up to the heights of 16 to 98 ft and trunk diameters about 23 to 36 ft.

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1 Welwitschia Mirabilis

welwitschia mirabilis
Welwitschia Mirabilis in Petrified forest, Namibia.

Welwitschia mirabilis is a weird desert plant native to the Namibian desert, initially developed in the Jurassic period. It is one of the long-living plant species globally, having a lifespan of long 2000 years. Even though having lots of leaves on the first look, it only has two leaves, and those leaves grow continuously from a base stem.

This desert plant can survive in most harsh climates. The unnatural shallower root system of this plant has the power to reach up to any underwater storage. Additionally, we also called it a tree tumbo. Moreover, tree tumbo plants produce male cones that are pink to red, while female cones are a combination of pink and bluish green.

The cones have 0.4 to 3.1 inches in length, with the smaller ones being male. However, only one in every thousand seeds will grow into a plant. Moreover, tree tumbos use their long taproot to absorbing moisture from fog and other precipitation.  Thus, it holds the top position in the list of the most mysterious desert plants.