Saxaul: Description Of The Desert Plant, Where It Grows, Uses

Saxaul is a tree that is most widely distributed in the desert. It can be up to 5-8 meters tall and about 1 meter across. Its trunk is smooth and curved, and its main decoration is a lush crown of rich green color. The characteristic feature of this plant is the unusual foliage, which is small scales that do not take any part in photosynthesis. The role of leaves is performed by green shoots.

Saxaul features

Saxaul: description of the desert plant, where it grows, uses

Saxaul is among the most important plants of the Central Asian deserts. In the seventies of the last century, it was decided to plant saxaul in Kalmykia in the Black Lands. It was supposed to anchor the moving sands.

This tree is a member of the subfamily Mare family Amaranthaceae. People living in this area, representatives of this family are more familiar with similar weeds, found mainly in vegetable gardens, namely: madder and quinoa.

These plants share a common vegetative cover and are also not harmed by the large amount of salt in their environment.

The wind-blown branches of saxaul, falling down in spectacular cascades, are capable of creating a voluminous and relatively cool shade. The branches of the flowering tree are decorated with small buds. The flowers can be colored in different shades, from crimson and burgundy to light pink. This is directly related to the variety of the tree.

Outwardly, the plant looks fragile and defenseless, but this is far from it. Its root system is perfectly adapted to growth and development in clay, rocky and sandy soils. It provides an excellent protection of the plant from any adverse weather conditions in the desert.

Even a small grove consisting of several plants, which are located quite far apart from each other, is considered a real forest. However, as a rule, in the desert you can see only single saxauls growing in the middle of endless sands.

After the cold weather arrives, the tree has a gradual shedding of its leaves.

After winter is over, strong gusts of wind cause the pollen that appears on the scales in March to shake. In the fall, a large number of fruits grow in place of this pollen, which are translucent wings of pink or pale yellow color.


Saxaul species

There are several varieties of saxaul in nature. The following varieties grow in different deserts:

  • Zaisan saxaul;
  • white;
  • black.

It is not uncommon to find black and white saxaul in the same desert. Their appearance is very different, and the difference can already be seen from afar. The black one has a darker crown and is larger than the white one. But the white one is more graceful; its trunk often bends under different angles and its branches are covered with ash-white bark. The wood of this species is very brittle and hard and cannot be chopped with an axe or mechanically attacked in any other way.

It also sinks when submerged in water and is very caloric. To put such wood in the stove, you have to break off several pieces, for this purpose throw it against a hard surface or from a great height.

The crown of the black saxaul is relatively rough, with its branches similar to the succulent horsetail. In addition, it has a well-developed root system which finds the closest groundwater and feeds on it. In this regard, if you saw this tree in the desert, you can be sure that the groundwater is not too deep and therefore in this place you can dig a well, if there is such a need.

Developed roots also help the tree feel better in excessively saline soil. However, white saxaul most often grows on loose and sandy soil.

The saxaul of Zaisan is less common than the previous varieties. At the same time, its trunk curves during growth. This species is characterized by a specific pungent aroma.

Where does saxaul grow

Saxaul: description of the desert plant, where it grows, uses

The largest saxaul bushes can be found in the deserts located in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Smaller thickets can be found in Iran, Afghanistan and Southwest China.

Purpose and Use

Saxaul: description of the desert plant, where it grows, uses

Wilderness travelers are exhausted by the heat during the day, but at night they can freeze to death. Therefore, to keep warm, they often use saxaul to make a fire.

The saxaul wood is an excellent fuel that has no flaws.

The advantages of this kind of wood:

  • It burns very long;
  • no smoke;
  • no smoking or sparks.

This kind of wood ignites very quickly, even a wet match would be enough. Its heat output is close to that of hard coal: burning evenly and for a very long time, keeping its temperature constant.

Saxaul has a high environmental value. If its wood is used in unlimited quantities, it can cause the category of sands in the desert to change to mobile or semi-mobile.

A well-developed root system can hold significant amounts of sand. In the course of a day the sand barkhan may "fly away" a few meters and everything in its path (gardens, villages, asphalt) will be backfilled. To prevent this, experts recommend the purposeful planting of many saxaul specimens. At the same time, those trees that grow must be protected.

People living in the area themselves plant this plant to protect their own territory.

And also such a tree is used by people for food for domestic animals (sheep, cows and camels). In addition, saxaul helps to create soil in the desert by regulating the level of groundwater and saturating the soil with organic matter.

The black saxaul is singled out. It has forestry and reclamation value.


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