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Xerophytes (Desert plants)


The definition of an xerophyte is a plant adapted to live in desiccated environments, needing very little water. Usually, they grow in areas with low levels of water in the soil and atmosphere. Examples of such areas could be the desert or sand dunes. These adaptations result in characteristically identifiable traits, such as curled grass leaves; ericoid leaves; and fleshy succulent leaves.

The fleshy enlargement on the leaves of many xerophytes such as succulents and cacti are a result of aqueous storage tissue, enabling the plant to hold water for longer. The thicker cuticle and smaller sized leaves of some xerophyte grasses reduce the rate of transpiration.

Some Xerophytes may also open their stomata at night when the temperatures are cooler, allowing less moisture loss while photosynthesising in the day. In desiccated environments Xerophytes dominate, whether as their exact opposite plants thrive in wetter environments. These plants are called Mesophytes.


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