Due to its various relief features, Uzbekistan has quite diverse flora. More than 3,700 types of plants have been recorded on the territory of Uzbekistan. Twenty percent of them grow only in Uzbekistan. Most of them grow on the mountains and only a few - in the desert and steppe areas.
The desert plants are particularly interesting. They are mainly there to protect soil from being swept away by constant desert winds. Only a few of the 400 types of plants that grow on the Usturt Plateau are important for the landscape. Most of the plateau is covered with haloxylon or saxaul. The black saxaul is the only plant that can grow in saline areas. It grows fast but lives too short. Saxaul is also a source of food for some desert animals like sheep and camels.
Desert plants are well adjusted to grow in moving and poor soils and in conditions of long drought or overheating. These plants adjust to desert condition by simply being leafless or having tiny leaves (for instance, saxaul or Calligonum).
The river valleys are vast in plains. The flora of the valleys is very diverse.
In foothills covered with grass, trees are rarely seen. Besides some cereals, these areas have different types of onion, tulip, rhubarb, iris, and other plants. These plants do not live long under the heat of the sun. As they disappear, other types of plants, which do well in heat, like the wormwood, occupy their place.
In foothills and semi-desert areas most of the plants are ephemeral. There are about 15-20 different types of ephemeral plants per square meter. These kinds of plants are hardly noticed in the landscape. In the past, these foothills and semi-desert areas had pistachio plants but now they grow only in areas difficult to access.
There are forests in low foothills. However, green plantation has been preserved only in areas difficult to access or unfit for agricultural purposes. The main plants in these areas are fir trees, the timber of which is highly valued. The fir trees grow very slowly and live quite long. There are fir trees more than 1,000 years old in the country.
Besides fir trees, there are deciduous trees like maple, cherry plums, and hawthorns. In some mountainous areas there are different types of wild apple trees. There are pistachio trees on Bobotag (mountain) and nuts in the Pskem valley.
The western Tian Shan areas are rich in birch woods. Plum trees, willow and poplar trees grow in most parts of the country. In the lower mountain areas there are honeysuckle, dog roses,
barberry, and wild grapes. Also, there are a wide variety of herbs such as the Muscat sage, rhubarb, sorrel, and others.
There are plenty of Pskem onions - the wild type of onion used for medical purposes - found in the valleys of Chirchik River. The middle-size mountain areas are also rich in different types of herbs. Only 30 percent of high mountain areas are covered with plants.