Desert Plant adaptations
- Some plants, called succulents, store water in their stems or leaves;
- Some plants have no leaves or small seasonal leaves that only grow after it rains. The lack of leaves helps reduce water loss during photosynthesis;
- Leafless plants conduct photosynthesis in their green stems;
- Long root systems spread out wide or go deep into the ground to absorb water;
- Some plants have a short life cycle, germinating in response to rain, growing, flowering, and dying within one year. These plants can evade drought;
- Leaves with hair help shade the plant, reducing water loss. Other plants have leaves that turn throughout the day to expose a minimum surface area to the heat;
- Spines to discourage animals from eating plants for water;
- Waxy coating on stems and leaves help reduce water loss;
- Flowers that open at night lure pollinators who are more likely to be active during the cooler night;
- Slower growing requires less energy. The plants don't have to make as much food and therefore do not lose as much water.
Temperate Grassland (Prairie) Plant Adaptations
- Some prairie trees have thick bark to resist fire;
- Prairie shrubs readily resprout after fire;
- Roots of prairie grasses extend deep into the ground to absorb as much moisture as they can;
- Extensive root systems prevent grazing animals from pulling roots out of the ground;
- Prairie grasses have narrow leaves which lose less water than broad leaves;
- Grasses grow from near their base, not from tip, thus are not permanently damaged from grazing animals or fire;
- Many grasses take advantage of exposed, windy conditions and are wind pollinated;
- Soft stems enable prairie grasses to bend in the wind;
- During a fire, while above-ground portions of grasses may perish, the root portions survive to sprout again.
Tropical Rainforest Plant Adaptations
- Drip tips and waxy surfaces allow water to run off, to discourage growth of bacteria and fungi;
- Buttresses and prop and stilt roots help hold up plants in the shallow soil;
- Some plants climb on others to reach the sunlight;
- Some plants grow on other plants to reach the sunlight;
- Flowers on the forest floor are designed to lure animal pollinators since there is relatively no wind on the forest floor to aid in pollination;
- Smooth bark and smooth or waxy flowers speed the run off of water;
- Plants have shallow roots to help capture nutrients from the top level of soil;
- Many bromeliads are epiphytes (plants that live on other plants); instead of collecting water with roots they collect rainwater into a central reservoir from which they absorb the water through hairs on their leaves;
- Epiphytic orchids have aerial roots that cling to the host plant, absorb minerals, and absorb water from the atmosphere.
Temperate Rain Forest Plant Adaptations
- Epiphytes such as mosses and ferns grow atop other plants to reach light;
- Cool temperatures lead to slow decomposition but seedlings grow on "nurse logs" to take advantage of the nutrients from the decomposing fallen logs;
- Trees can grow very tall due to amount of precipitation.
Temperate Deciduous Forest Plant Adaptations
- Wildflowers grow on forest floor early in the spring before trees leaf-out and shade the forest floor;
- Many trees are deciduous (they drop their leaves in the autumn, and grow new ones in spring). Most deciduous trees have thin, broad, light-weight leaves that can capture a lot of sunlight to make a lot of food for the tree in warm weather; when the weather gets cooler, the broad leaves cause too much water loss and can be weighed down by too much snow, so the tree drops its leaves. New ones will grow in the spring;
- Trees have thick bark to protect against cold winters.
Taiga Plant Adaptations
- Many trees are evergreen so that plants can photosynthesize right away when temperatures rise;
- Many trees have needle-like leaves which shape loses less water and sheds snow more easily than broad leaves;
- Waxy coating on needles prevent evaporation;
- Needles are dark in color allowing more solar heat to be absorbed;
- Many trees have branches that droop downward to help shed excess snow to keep the branches from breaking.
Tundra Plant Adaptations
- Tundra plants are small (usually less than 12 inches tall) and low-growing due to lack of nutrients, because being close to the ground helps keep the plants from freezing, and because the roots cannot penetrate the permafrost;
- Plants are dark in colorsome are even redthis helps them absorb solar heat;
- Some plants are covered with hair which helps keep them warm;
- Some plants grow in clumps to protect one another from the wind and cold;
- Some plants have dish-like flowers that follow the sun, focusing more solar heat on the center of the flower, helping the plant stay warm.
Plant Adaptations in Water
- Underwater leaves and stems are flexible to move with water currents;
- Some plants have air spaces in their stems to help hold the plant up in the water;
- Submerged plants lack strong water transport system (in stems); instead water, nutrients, and dissolved gases are absorbed through the leaves directly from the water;
- Roots and root hairs reduced or absent; roots only needed for anchorage, not for absorption of nutrients and water;
- Some plants have leaves that float atop the water, exposing themselves to the sunlight;
- In floating plants chlorophyll is restricted to upper surface of leaves (part that the sunlight will hit) and the upper surface is waxy to repel water;
- Some plants produce seeds that can float.