Desert plants include cactus, unicorn plant, desert lily, western peppergrass, turtleback, paperflower, century plant, blue palo verde, desert mariposa tulip, desert sand verbena, sagebrush, creosote bush and pale trumpets. Desert plants are well-adapted to grow in climates where precipitation is scarce and temperatures may be extreme.Continue Reading
Cacti have adapted exceptionally well to desert conditions. Over time they have changed their shape so that their external surface is reduced in relation to their volume. They've gotten rid of green leaves and let their stems handle photosynthesis. In many types of cactus, the stems have become round or flat. Prickly pears orient themselves so that the flat sides of their stems face east and west. In this way, the worst heat of the midday sun only strikes the edges of the stems.
Cacti have also evolved to efficiently collect and conserve water. Young cacti have spines that point downward. Spines are modified leaves that keep the plant cool by absorbing and reflecting light. They also offer the plant protection. The spines on these cacti collect dew, fog and other precipitation and channel it to the plant's roots.
Spines, thorns and bristles are not just found on cacti. Agaves such as the century plant can have sharp spines.Learn more about Outdoor Plants & Flowers
Desert soil is generally composed of sand, gravel and small rock, with very little humus, the organic material found in soil. The aridity of the desert plays a major determining factor in the amount of humus in the soil.Full Answer >
Desert animals mostly feed on plants, insects, carcasses and other animals. Smaller animals tend to thrive in the desert as compared to those that are larger in size. This is because food and water in the desert is scarce while the climatic conditions are quite extreme.Full Answer >
A jumping cholla cactus, commonly called the teddy-bear cactus, has teddy-bear-like arms covering the plant. When the plant is touched or brushed against, these arms will "jump" onto whatever touched it.Full Answer >
In its native habitat, the needles of a cactus protect it from animals that attempt to scavenge water from the plant. The needles are more efficient than leaves at conserving water, as they do not lose water through evaporation.Full Answer >