Haloxylon


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Haloxylon

 

(saxaul), a genus of plants of the family Chenopodiaceae. The plants are shrubs or small trees measuring 1.5–12 m tall. The fragile young shoots are forked branching and segmented. The dense or open crown is green in the summer and dirty gray or brownish in the autumn. The opposite leaves are in the form of small colorless scales or tubercles that are slightly compressed to the stem. The flowers are bisexual and borne singly by short twigs in the axils of the scalelike bracts. The perianth consists of five tunicate leaflets that form broad wings, which lie one behind the other near the fruit. Saxauls regenerate readily by suckers and reproduce by seed. The plants live as long as 30 to 60 years.

There are ten species, distributed in semidesert and desert areas of Asia (Middle Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, northwestern China, Mongolia). The plants sometimes form forests. The USSR has three species: H. aphyllum, H. ammodendron, and H. persicum. The first two grow on salinated sands and loams. The leaves of H. ammodendron resemble tubercles. H. persicum, which grows on hilly and flat sandy areas, has needle-like leaves.

Saxaul wood is hard, brittle, and heavy. Used for fuel, it produces slightly less heat than lignite. Potash is obtained from the ashes. In the winter the green branchlets serve as fodder for camels and sheep. Forests of H. aphyllum are most productive. Saxaul is used to bind sand and to beautify cities.

REFERENCES

Derev’ia i kustarniki SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1951.
Leont’ev, V. L. Saksaulovye lesa pustyni Kara-Kum. Moscow-Leningrad, 1954.

T. G. LEONOVA

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