The Hardiest Plants in the World.
Mankind has conquered many different types of environment and can now call them home. From the Icy, barren tundra’s of the north to the hot and arid deserts of the equator. But man is not the only living organism able to adapt and survive climatic extremes; plants do so too, and can put us to shame with their strength and determination to survive. So just what are the world’s toughest plants?
Echinocactus grusonii – Drought Tolerant
With deserts covering more than a 5th of the earth land surface area, it makes sense to start with one of the hardiest, drought tolerant plants. The Barrel cactus is the most common desert plant found in the world and can range from anywhere between 1 – 10 meters in height. The cactus has a long-standing myth of containing drinkable water inside of it, although the truth of the matter is that if you were to drink the water content, it would make you nauseous, followed by stomach cramps and vomiting.
The wettest place on earth is Mawsynram in India and receives an astounding 467.35 inches (11.8 meters) of rainfall each and every year. Here you will find the Indian rubber tree (Ficus elastic) which grows prolifically throughout the region. The locals tend to the roots of this amazing tree and knot them together to form living bridges passing over the raging waters below. While nearly 12 meters of rainfall per year would almost certainly kill most other trees, the Indian rubber tree not only grows but thrives in the moisture laden soil.
The purple Saxifrage is the hardiest cold tolerant flowering plant of all. Found in the high Arctic, this edible plant can survive extremes of as low as -20.9 degrees Celsius. It can also be found in the Swiss Alps at an elevation of 14,505 ft making it the highest known elevation for a plant in Europe. It is a popular plant for alpine gardens, although it can be difficult to grow in warmer climes.
If you are looking for the most heat tolerant plant, then look no further than Pentas lanceolata, or the Egyptian Starcluster. Native to most of Africa and the Yemen area, Egyptian Starcluster can withstand temperatures of up to 45 Degrees Celsius. It comes in a whole array of dazzling pinks and reds and provides colour in areas that are perhaps lacking much plant life.
Of course, there are plants that are able to withstand a combination of heat, cold, drought, and flooding, and these tend to be grasses, mosses, and lichen. For the purpose of this article, we have chosen to select the hardiest non-grass plants to highlight diversity between the 4 extremes.