The desert being a harsh environment, organisms in a desert ecosystem adapt to survive the intense heat and limited water. Each organism has a unique system for survival, and some of the ways desert plants adapt are similar. Necessity for any organism that is to survive in the harsh desert climate is water. Plants have adapted in a number of ways that help them accumulate water. Plants in desert ecosystems are mostly grow near riverbeds. Whether dry or wet, these areas often contain water underground and plants are more likely to survive if their roots can reach a reliable water supply. These are also the most likely places for water to accumulate in the case of rain. When the water comes, the plants will be there to receive it. Fog is also a reliable water source in deserts where the conditions are right for it. Air condenses to form dew in the cool mornings. The dew is captured on the plant’s leaves and hairs. Many desert plants have vast root systems, capable of reaching deep, otherwise unusable water supplies under the dry soil.
Some trees such as the mangroves and cypress have evolved curious ways to deal with the problems of growing in a wet waterlogged and salty place. They have evolved to have projections from their roots called pneumatophores, or ‘knees’. These “knees” develop from the lateral roots that grow near the surface and protrude up to about 12 inches out of the soil or sediment. The precise function of these “knees” is not known, but there is general agreement that they aid the plants in maintaining adequate root respiration in a watery environment.
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