Re: some info on plants

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Posted by Lori on November 09, 2001 at 22:29:54:

In Reply to: help for school project posted by Sara T. on October 26, 2001 at 12:00:21:

I'm glad somebody was nice enough to respond to your questions, glad he knows something about soils, it all looks like dirt and rock to me.

here is a better sight on plants and flowers
(Ralph listed the uglier ones.)

and animals

that you find in deserts.

How do plants survive in the desert?

plants that can survive with only a little water are called xerophytes, and those that can survive in salty soil are called halophytes.
There are trees with very long tap roots that collect water many feet underground such as mesquite and tamarisk. they are called phreatophytes. Mesquite tree roots can be 40 or 50 feet long.
many cacti are not round like a ball, but pleated like an accordian, the vertical pleats divert the water directly to their roots when it rains. The pleats also allow them to expand and shrink their bodies so they can store water in their bodies more easily. They sort of puff up after it rains.
Some of the tiny flowers and little scrub plants only live for a short time. They grow, produce seeds and die. The seeds will remain dormant in the ground, sometimes for several years. Only when it rains will they start to grow. This is how many plant species survive droughts. ( They just die when there is a drought, but their seeds remain in the ground until it rains.)
Desert plants often have hard leathery leaves, with a waxy covering. this helps to deflect the heat from the sun. They also have spines, like cacti, or little hairs that help to shade them from the sun. The spines also deter critters from eating them. Most desert plants grow very slowly so they dont need as much water. When there is a long drought, they just stop growing completely and drop all or most of their leaves so they use less water. In Baghdad, California, there was no recorded rain from 1909 to 1912. There were creosotes bushes there that lost all their leaves, but they lived without water for three years!!! I'm not exactly sure where Baghdad California is, think its not too far from death valley though.

Many desert animals hibernate during the winter when food (plants) are scarce, lizards, the desert tortoise etc. They often have long hairs in their nose and ears to keep out the dust. They also burrow into the ground during the hottest part of the day to escape the heat. Jack rabbits and coyotes dig long tunnels underground and sleep there during the day. They run around at night when its cooler.

Dont forget that there are many birds in death valley.

hope you get an A on your project!!

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