The vegetation cover of Niger is very limited because of the harsh climatic condition. Over 80% of the country is part of the Sahara Desert which is characterized by long periods of droughts, hindering the growth and development of plants. Most of the plant species are found on the banks of water bodies such as the Niger River. The common trees include the baobab, acacia, and mahogany. The desert is characterized by shrubs and thorny bushes.
Desert rose, Adenium obesum, is a flowering plant species in the dogbane species. It is native to the south of Sahara and the tropical regions of Africa and Arabia. The desert rose an evergreen or succulent shrub and can lose its leaves during cold seasons. The plant can grow up to a height of 3 meters with pachycaul stems and stout. The leaves are arranged spirally and are clustered towards the tip. The flowers are red and pink with the whitish blush. Desert rose produces a sap on the roots and stems which contain cardiac glycosides used as an arrow poison during hunting. The plant can be propagated either by seeds or stem cutting. Desert rose has been used on postage stamps by several countries.
Tamarind, Tamarindus indica, is a leguminous tree which produces edible fruits used in cuisines around the world. It grows wild in Africa and other Asian countries with India being the largest producer. Tamarind can attain a maximum crown height of 18 meters its evergreen leaves are alternately arranged with the branches drooping from a single central trunk as the tree grows. Tamarind inconspicuously flowers with the red yellow elongated flowers. The fruits are pods or indehiscent legumes with a hard, brown shell. The fruits are juicy and acidulous. The ripened fruit is more palatable and used as a dessert. Tamarind extract is also used as a food flavor. Tamarind wood can be used to make furniture because of its density and quality.
Hanza, Boscia senegalensis, is a traditional food plant in Niger and other parts of Africa because it can improve nutrition and boost food security. It is a perennial woody plant classified as a dicot. Hanza can grow up to 4 meters in height under perfect weather conditions. It has small and leathery leaves and produces fruits which are clustered in a small bunch. Hanza can grow at an altitude of between 60 and 1,400 meters with rainfall conditions of 150 to 500 mm. It keeps the soil from erosion and buffers against the wind. It also provides shelter for other plants by providing shade. The fruits can be consumed either raw or cooked. The seeds are also important sources of nutrition, especially during famine. In the Niger Republic, the seeds are used to bake cakes, cookies, and bread. Its tender roots can be grounded and boiled into sweet porridge.
The environmental issues such as destructive farming, human encroachment, and bush fires are common threats to the native plant species in the country. Most of the plant species such as tamarind are in high demand and are cut doing more because they are cheap source of wood for furniture. The country suffers prolonged drought with harsh desert conditions which hinder the survival of most of these native plants. Lack of adequate guards to take care of the parks and reserves is also a factor cited for the loss of some plant species