Xerophyte plants: adaptation to semiarid and desert climates
What they are (definition)
Xerophytes are plants adapted to live in regions of semiarid and desert (arid) climates.
Cacti are the best known xerophyte plants. However, there are several non-cactus species that belong to the xerophytes.
The word is of Greek origin, and Sheriffs = dry and phyto = plant or vegetable.
Main characteristics of xerophyte plants:
- They have plant structures capable of storing water (parenchyma) for a long time. They also have structures that significantly reduce plant evaporation.
- They are plants that have large amount of thorns.
- The vast majority of xerophyte species produce flowers and fruits.
- Presence of few leaves to reduce evaporation area and consequent water loss.
- Many species have long roots to fetch water from deeper soil areas.
- Short biological cycle.
- Great ability to dehydrate and moisturize tissues.
Examples of xerophyte plants:
- Opuntia (cactus also known as fig)
- Xique-xique (common cactus in Caatinga)
- Saguaro Cactus (typical of some of the Midwestern USA).
- Dragon fruit
- Porcupine Cactus
- Cactus Ball
- Nopal (palm cactus)
- Quipá (guibá)
Did you know?
- In Brazil, we can find many species of xerophilous vegetables in the Caatinga and Cerrado biomes.