The Haloxylon persicum has a stout rugged stem and light grey bark, growing up to 4.5-5 metres in height. It lacks large foliage-type leaves; in fact, its leaves have retrogressed as succulent branches. The plant is found in sandhills, deserts and sand ridges, where it often forms pure stands, with an average density up to 400-500 trees a hectare. The white saxaul is a hardy tree that can grow in nutritionally poor soil and can tolerate drought. The tree is in leaf all year, and flowers in May-June.
The plant's extensive root system is useful for stabilising sandy soils. The wood is durable and heavy and is used in general carpentry. As it burns well and gives a good heat it is used as a fuel. It is called "ghada" in Arabic and was frequently mentioned in classical Arabic poetry.