Plant Adaptations

Plants have adaptations to help them live and grow in different areas. They can even grow in water. They develop many different adaptations for their survival.

One example is plants growing in the desert areas of the world. Desert plants take in a lot of water quickly when it rains. Since it does not rain very often, the plants have to store the water in their stems, which have a thick, waxy coating which helps seal in the water.

The spines on some desert plants also help with their survival by keeping away animals who want to eat them. The spines also act like leaves holding in the water during the hot weather. Cactus plants need to store a lot of water. Some desert plants have leaves with hair to shade them from the sun. These hairs help stop water loss, too. Other plants in the desert turn away from the sun during the day and receive less heat. Some desert plants overcome the problem of the lack of water by growing long roots that go deep into the ground for water. The plants who choose to fight to live have special stems and roots to absorb and store water deep under the ground.

Hot sun and heavy rains make the best areas for plants and animals to grow. Over half of all plant types live in the tropical rainforests. Tropical rainforests are the places where plants grow the best. The trees grow very close together. They need the sun to make food. In a thick forest where there are a lot of trees, plants cannot reach the sun easily. They may not live. In order to reach the sun, plants have to grow or climb on others. Only 2 percent of sunlight reaches the forest floor. The ground is very damp.

Water carries food from the soil up to the plant so that the plant may live. If the ground is dry, the plant won't get enough water to carry the food. Plants absorb their nutrients from the soil. The nutrients are taken up through the stems of many plants to feed the plant. Because rainforests get large amounts of rain, too much water can also be damaging to plants. An adaptation called a drip-tip on leaves allows the water run-off to save the plant from getting too much moisture.

In grasslands, also called prairies, plants must adapt to the dry climate where the summers are hot and the winters are cold. Because it is very dry, the roots go way below the ground to reach the water. If they need protection from animals, the plants may have thorns or spikes. Strong steady winds blow over the grasslands and remove the water from the ground or air so trees usually cannot grow there. Though, savannas, many located in Africa, are places in grasslands that do have some trees.

In a tundra, it is very dry and cold. The blanket of snow covering the tundra in winter helps plants keep warm and protects them from damaging winds. Roots of tundra plants grow just under the surface of the ground where they can be close to the melting snow. It also keeps plants from freezing. Collecting this water is very important for these plants because the high winds can dry them out easily.

Finally, thousands of plant types grow in water all over the world. Ocean seagrass has stems that enable them to cope with the tugging of currents and waves. Roots grow down to anchor the plant to the seabed, while other blades grow straight up and bend easily. Ocean plants also have to be able to handle the dissolved salt in the water. They have the ability to break down the salt into different parts. This can cause beds of oceanic plants to control the amount of salt in the water surrounding them.

Plants are found all over the world because they have developed adaptations to survive the different climates.

A: Stems
B: Spines
C: Roots
D: Drip-tips

A: Tropical rainforest
B: Tundra
C: Deserts
D: Prairies

A: Cactus
B: Water lilies
C: Savannas
D: Seagrass

A: Grassland
B: Desert
C: Tundra
D: Rainforest

A: Keeps them warm
B: Protects them from damaging winds
C: Melting snow reaches the shallow roots
D: All of the above

A: Water lilies
B: Ocean seagrass
C: Cactus
D: All of the above

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