Desert ecology, floral survival, and camel grazing – Impacts and the future hopes


This blog is about a bush in the desert (Zygophyllum qatarense) which gives us a hope to sustain life in the desert.

3 Actors and the Desert sustaintion

While exploring & understanding the arid regions, you will notice that 3 actors are very important and are strongly correlated to each other, i.e. the prevailing flora, the possible grazer (grazing animals), and the sustainability (desert’s functional ecosystem). The pressure of grazing, annual rainfall, the existence of the fittest flora, and the soil texture have very direct and visible impacts on the biomass of the ecosystem which later drives sustainability.

Some flora are more resilient than the others

Being a desert explorer, I have always noticed that some flora are more resilient and stronger than others. They are more adapted and better cope with the prevailing threats and have learned how to survive and sustain and the Zygophyllum qatarense is one of them. It gives a very stunning beauty to the desert and supports wildlife. https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/11/12/how-zygophyllum-qatarense-support-wildlife-and-livestock-in-the-desert/

Zygophyllum qatarense is a highly reseleint plant/flora in the deserts of Arabia and Persian gulf region. It is equally adapted to the salty soil and very dry and arid conditions.
This shrub of Zygophyllum is out of the reach of camels, so it will well-grown taller. It can grow taller up to 1 meter but it prefers to spread and cover more area and ensure its sustenance in the arid ecosystem

Zygophyllum is a future hope in the desert

Zygophyllum qatarense is the future hope for the existance of the functional ecosystem in the desert. No animal can vanish this flora from the desert. Very few animals, especially camels and goats like to eat this plant but go to the other types of bushes after taking a few bites from Zygophyllum. In the following gallery of the Z. qatarense, you can see the top twigs have been bitten by camels but the main part and stronger area of the plants are still standing firm. I have a good hope that this resilient bush will sustain in the desert for millennia in the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izc8O6tdj5A

We have very good examples of the sustainability of Zygophyllum as we can see in the following images that the other plants like Tribulus terrestris (puncture vine), Leptadenia, and desert grass (Cyperus) are shortened by continuous grazing as the camels take more bites from the same plant and consume it on daily basis because of the taste and likeness of the flora (Tribulus and Cyperus grass). Zygophyllum is always strong and resilient and sustains greenery in the desert. https://arkbiodiv.com/2017/01/08/the-strong-and-resilient-plant-of-desert-zygophyllum-zygophyllum-qatarense/

Camel lovest to eat the salty and woody bushes but zygophylum is still not highly desirable

Camels have learned (through the long history of evolution) the art of survival in the driest and harshed climatic conditions of the desert. As the deserts have limited diversity of flora, mainly bushes, followed by shrubs and trees are highly resilient in the desert ecosystem, mostly saltish in taste, full of thorns, bitter, full of molecules depressing appetite (alkaloids) of the animals, etc but the camel can still browse and consume such unique plants.

Some plants like Zygophyllum qatarense are well adapted to salinity, droughts, desert storms, and the pressure of grazing by its appetite depressing nature but the camel still browse and consume, especially when the camel is feeling salt hunger or constipation. In salt hunger situations, Zygophyllum is an icecream species for the camel. The camel browses it on the top, takes some bites, and moves forward. It does not take more bites and the plants remain strong and sustainable. https://arkbiodiv.com/2017/12/21/part-2-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/amp/

Zygophyllum qatarense is the desert’s beauty

Zygophyllum qatarense gives a unique beauty to the desert and I have always suggested planting this flora in the lawns because of its beauty and power of survival. It doesn’t need any inputs like watering, spraying for pesticides, and other care, so it is feasible to maintain a beautiful lawn. This flora is highly adapted to the dry and hot weather of the deserts. It can be a wildlife sanctuary on your lawn. https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/11/06/a-desert-adapted-bush-zygophyllum-qataranse/

Way forward

At the moment, I have lost some pictures, camel eating Zygophyllum but I’m quite optimistic that soon, I shall be able to share with you. Please consider my suggestion, planting native plants like Leptadenia, Haloxllon, Zygophyllum, and other shrubs and trees in your lawns so that your kids are enriched with the knowledge of native flora and fauna as the native plants act as a wildlife sanctuary. The local people in Arabia and Persia have been using this plant for various purposes, ranging from medication (human and animals) to disinfecting/cleaning clothes and other stuff, and insect repletion to rodents control.https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/11/14/zygophyllum-qatarense-is-nomads-medicine-in-the-desert/

5 thoughts on “Desert ecology, floral survival, and camel grazing – Impacts and the future hopes

  1. I want to inquire and discuss about sporadic cultivating Nushki Desert (Golden desert) with zygophyllum Q. and other desert bushes and shrubs beneficial for supporting livestock. I would like to know where to find this shrub in Pakistan and how to sustain the Bush in initial stage.

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    1. Thanks for your interest and feedback. Please, never look for exotic flora, Chaghai Kharan desert is home to very precious flora, like White saxaul (Thagaz in Balochi), Zygohpylum (local) and other bushes. I would suggest you to make a policy and involve the local people to support your work. Start with the protection of the bushes/shrubs already prevailing in the region and unfortunately, there is very high level of deforestation. Secondly, recultivate the native flora again. Please communicate with the forest department to train you for the plantation of native flora and make nurseries.

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