Situated on the ventral portion of Turpan Basin, the Desert Botanical Garden lies about 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of Turpan City. It is the largest botanical garden in China, built on a bottomland (low-lying area), where the average altitude is -80 meters (-262 feet). The garden is positioned in an extremely windy area, where one finds quicksand and an often unforgiving climate. It's location has earned it nicknames such as the 'Wind Storeroom' and 'Land of Fire', because for one to two months each year, the area is in gale, with wind levels often exceeding 8 points on the 12 point scale (according to the Beaufort Wind Scale), dramatic temperature fluctuations (from highs of 48C (118F) to lows of -28C (82F)), and in summer, the surface of the sand reaches temperatures of up to 80C (176F). On the rare occasion that rain does fall, it does so only in passing - here the average rainfall is less than 16 millimeters (about 0.6 inch) per year.
The Desert Botanical Garden began as a sand-control station in 1972, and was converted into a botanical garden in 1976. As one of the 12 botanical gardens directly under the lead of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, it is used for importing, domesticating, and expanding sand-fixation plants. It is filled with plants, flowers, and herbal medicines - highlighting a collection of commonly used herbal medicines from Uigur. The area is also used as an area to test sand-control methods as well as a tourist destination. The garden includes seven different parts, categorized according to uses and vegetation. Of these, the National Herbal Medicine Garden is the most well known. Throughout the garden, one will find about 300 different species of plants, featuring the Euphrates Poplar, Haloxylon ammodendron (GA Mey.) Bunge, and the willow. One will also find almost 80% of the desert plants of China here, 43 of which are rare or endangered species.
Together with the Ancient City of Jiaohe and Karez System, this botanical garden has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turpan. From the watchtower inside the garden, one has an excellent view of the Flaming Mountains, the Grape Valley, and the Aydingkol Lake, all of which will make a visit to Turpan even more enjoyable.