China's Western Wonders: Diversifolious Poplar
By Xu Xinchen

China is home to a unique type of poplar tree that can survive in the desert for centuries.

Over half of the world's population of the trees live there and 90 percent of these are in the country's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Situated in southern Xinjiang's Luntai County, Bayingol Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture is home to one of the world's largest forests made up of diversifolious poplar trees.

Despite growing out of the desert, locals say the trees can live for one thousand years. Even after they die, they stand strong for another thousand years. And when they collapse, they don't decompose for an additional thousand years.

Diversifolious in Latin means varied-leaved. The shape of the leaves changes with time. Younger trees have narrow leaves so they don't need too much water to grow. Full-fledged trees have rounder and bigger leaves to gravitate more sunlight.

Rose willow can often be found around these poplars. Locals call rose willow and diversifolious poplar "couple plants" of the desert.

In addition, these poplars provide durable and sturdy building material. The region's forebearers not only built houses with poplar but also carved out utensils from its wood.

The poplar forest has become a popular sight inside the Taklamakan Desert - China's largest and the world's second largest drifting desert.

(CGTN's Chen Bo also contributed to this piece with his underwater footage.)