Largest cactus, like North American deserts support the giant cactus or saguaro, which may live to be 200 years old.
Antarctica is sometimes called the coldest desert, and is in fact extremely dry, because all its water is locked up as ice. The deserts of Central Asia—in Mongolia and western China—are chilled in winter by cold air from the Arctic. Even in summer, when the days are hot, the temperature can drop at night to below freezing.
Most areas of the Sahara have about 3 inches (76 mm) of rainfall in a year, making this one of the driest deserts. Parts of the Atacama Desert in Chile are also very dry. Some years may pass there between rainfalls.
Parts of the Sahara in Africa and Mojave Desert in North America experience extremely high temperatures. The average summer temperature may be over 104°F (40°C). In Death Valley in the Mojave Desert, USA, temperatures of 134°F (57°C) have been recorded.
What is an Oasis?
Cacti are protected by sharp spines. Many kinds also produce large, colorful flowers.
What Lives in the Largest Cactus?
Cacti are home to a variety of wildlife. Their flowers are visited by butterflies and moths, also by hummingbirds. Holes in cactus stems provide nest sites for desert rodents, and also for birds like tiny elf owl.
Cacti have generally leafless, swollen stems that store water. Since they lack of leaves they do not lose much water through transpiration. Most cacti are spicy, which probably protects them from being eaten by hungry (and thirsty) desert animals.
Flowering Desert Scene. Some deserts become a sheet of flowers after a rainfall.