The Gobi desert is one of the most inhospitable places in the world, with temperatures as hot as 115 degrees Fahrenheit and as cold as 40 degrees below zero. In fact, it is not unusual to see frost or snow on the sand dunes, as the Gobi desert is cold for most of the year, according to information published by the University of Richmond. Still, this environment of extremes is home to a wide variety of plant life, all of which play an important role in this remote desert ecosystem.
Caranga is a legume that is also commonly called the Siberian pea shrub. This plant can grow up to 20 feet tall and blooms with a profusion of yellow, pink or white flowers. Caranga tends to grow on the rocky slopes of the mountains bordering the desert.
Saxaul (Haloxylon persicum)
Saxaul is a woody shrub that is almost tree-like in form. This plant can grow up to 14 feet tall and has bark that absorbs moisture. The wood is very important to the tribal people groups of the Gobi desert, as it provides the warmth in a cold environment. The tree itself has very deep roots. For this reason, it is often planted to prevent erosion.
Taana (Allium polyrhizum)
As the Saxaul provides fuel for the people groups in the Gobi desert, so the Taana (Allium polyrhizum) provides food, especially for their livestock, although the plant is also used in many of their dishes. This wild onion has a slightly nutty flavor and is found throughout the desert.
Cistanche (C. deserticola)
Cistanche is a holoparasiticplant that grows on and leeches nutrients and water from the saxaul shrub. It is a highly popular herb in many parts of Asia, especially in China, where it is sold as an aphrodisiac.
Saltwort (Salsola kali)
Saltwort is an invasive weed. Named for its tolerance to salty conditions, this plant, native to the Gobi desert, is often seen rolling across the dunes and can be found in many parts of America as well.