Ever wonder how a desert plant survives in such a
harsh environment? It seems a near impossibility for
anything to survive in an area with such hot and dry conditions
during the day, sometimes freezing cold
conditions at night, with salty soil and animal life in
search of every drop of moisture they can get. But to
live, the flora in these wastelands have developed a number of
physical characteristics as well as behavioral practices that
are simply amazing.
Take the Saguaro Cactus for example. This type of desert
plant in general, the cacti, adapt in a number of general
ways. One adaptation is to replace leaves with thin
needles to minimize moisture loss. In addition, their
trunks are thick and bloated. This allows them to store
moisture far from the surface, again protecting it from
evaporation. But the Saguaro has two additional
features. The first of these is the use of a nurse tree,
another plant that provides shade while the Saguero
grows. You'd find shade under that hot sun too. Its
growth is painfully slow, no more than an inch every
year. Reaching maturity under these conditions is an
important part of survival.
Some desert plants do similar things to live. Plants like
the Saguero are called Xerophytes, they store water in
particular with their needles instead of leaves. another
general type of plants are the Phreatophytes. Their roots
are deep enough to reach all the way down to the water
table. We have to mention two other things.
Some desert plants, called perennials, live for many
years. These make it in the harsh climate by remaining
dormant during the hottest and driest part of the year.
But when conditions are better they come alive. By
continuing this cycle they maintain long, healthy lives.
Another type of desert plants called annuals live only one
season. Whereas perennials take the long-term approach,
annuals go for quick success. Their lives are short,
then, during these arid periods when they germinate and spread
their seeds for the next generation.
A Desert plant is pretty amazing.