Plants and Animals

Except in oases, where water is relatively abundant, vegetation in the Sahara is quite sparse and widely scattered. Only a few areas, however, such as the Tanezrouft and parts of the Libyan Desert, have no plant life of any kind. Most of the plants found in the Sahara, particularly the small flowering types, have very shallow roots and depend on an occasional rainfall for moisture. They complete their growing cycle in a short time after a rain, producing seeds that lie dormant until the next rain, often after a lapse of several years.

Some plants, especially those in oases or near wadis, have long roots that reach subsurface water. Such plants include date palms, tamarisks, and other trees, as well as most kinds of desert shrubs.

Most of the Sahara's animal life is concentrated along the northern and southern fringes of the desert and in oases. Antelopes and gazelles are the largest animals of the Sahara. There are also hares, foxes, lizards, a few species of snakes, and numerous kinds of insects.