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Flora

by Monika Mufti

 

Sinai is basically an area of desert - but due to its unique geographical position it contains an immense variety of different habitats that the term 'desert' encompasses. For the plant enthusiast, Sinai has much to offer.

The Sinai Peninsula is part of Asia as well as the Mediterranean Basin and its northern parts link to Egypt proper, to Africa.
The Red Sea bridges the tropical Indian Ocean with the temperate Mediterranean and is also a major highway for migratory birds on their palaearctic-tropic journeys. Sinai has an arid climate, with rainfall of approx. 35mm per year. Animals as well as plants have all evolved to survive in conditions where water is sparse, day-time temperatures soar to almost boiling and nights can be freezing cold.

 

In order to make it easier for the visitor and botany enthusiasts to find out more about the many plant species of Sinai, we have listed them according to their habitat type:

Coastal fossil corals:

 

covering much of the eastern and southern shores of Sinai and home to mangroves, macroalgae and seagrasses.
Wetlands:

 

hypersaline marsh areas, most notably Lake Bardawil in north Sinai, and also to a lesser degree in Nabq and Ras Mohammed are home to a large variety of more or less salt tolerant plants.
Sandy plains:

 

a variety of sub-habitats e.g. dunes (Nebkas and Sabkhas), alluvial fans with their silted catchment areas and runnels, each presenting their own range of plant species.
Dry desert valleys (wadis):

 

serving as flow channels for the occasional rainfall, they show the most favourable habitat for plant growth and therefore the majority of plants are found here.
Rock deserts (hamada):

 

sometimes interlink mountains, wadis, and plains. Being extremely inhospitable with little sediment cover, almost no water, exposed to high winds and sun, they have very limited plant growth. Only on sites with some sediment cover can extremely hardy plants exist.

 

Foothills and mountain sides:

 

consist mostly of sandstone and granite rock with an infinite number of fissures, cracks and crevices, where some plants are able to catch a foothol.

 

Each of these habitats changes again with geology, altitude, availability and quality of water and support its own, specialized range of plants. So by understanding each habitat, the botany enthusiast will know where certain plant species are most likely to be found and - vice versa - by recognizing certain 'key' plant species, will be able to draw conclusions about the character and nature of each habitat.

There are also special sections on:

Conservation efforts and protection


 
The importance of plants in daily Bedouin life


 

 


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