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Plant adaptations: types and examples

Plants are some of the oldest complex organisms on the planet, and they have had time to colonize most of the earth’s surface. In almost any environment where there is availability of water in a liquid state and some sunlight arrives, we can find plants.

However, in order to survive in such a large number of environments and climates, and with such diverse circumstances, a large number of adaptations of plants to environmental factors have had to be developed. If you want to learn more about how plants adapt to the environment, join us in this interesting AgroCorrn article about what are the adaptations of plants with examples .

  1. Types of plant adaptations
  2. Plant adaptations to the soil
  3. Plant adaptations to temperature
  4. Plant adaptations to light
  5. Plant adaptations in the desert and examples

Types of plant adaptations

Plants have to adapt to their environment to survive, like other living things. They have to adjust their structures and metabolism to factors such as soils, water, temperature, light , and so on. Some of the adaptations that plants have managed to make throughout their evolution are:

  • Thorns
  • Acicular or needle-shaped leaves.
  • Very large leaves to receive more sunlight.
  • Fleshy leaves.
  • Fleshy stems.
  • Thick roots, such as tubers or rhizomes.
  • Very extensive roots.
  • Roots adapted to always being submerged in water, with or without contact with the ground.
  • Rotating movement to get more sunlight.
  • Reduce your metabolism to a minimum.

We recommend you read this other article about the Origin and evolution of plants .

Plant adaptations to the soil

Among the many factors that plants must adapt to in their different environments, one of the most important is undoubtedly the soil, which is a source of minerals and support for most species. This is influenced by the pH of the soil, its porosity, its level of permeability or its salinity, among others.

  • Thus, we find calcicultural plants , which are those that grow in alkaline soils , with a pH below 7. Their adaptations are aimed at capturing iron in that environment, necessary for the synthesis of chlorophyll .
  • At the other extreme are the siliciculous plants , which live in acidic soils with a pH above 7. This type of soils tend to be sandy, so they are poor in nutrients. Some examples of plants that adapt to this type of soil are chestnut and cork oak.
  • We also have halophilic plants , which grow in soils with high salinity, which makes it difficult to capture water.
  • In addition, there are also gypsiculous plants , which live in soils with a high gypsum content.
  • The nitrophilous plants grow in soils with excess nutrients that intoxicarían unadapted species.

This field could also include the adaptations of aquatic plants , which grow floating on water or submerged. These plants do not need to develop complex water catchment or storage systems, but instead have to adapt to ensure that their flowers stay above water to facilitate pollination , for example. Here you can learn more about +50 aquatic plants: names, characteristics and images .

Plant adaptations to temperature

Generally speaking, plants can only survive between 0ºC and 45ºC . Below the freezing point, the water freezes and the plant has no way of absorbing, eliminating or processing it in another way, while above 45 ºC the vegetable becomes paralyzed due to the cessation of its proteins.

Depending on the temperature range that a plant can withstand, they are classified eurithermal plants and estenotermas plants . The former survive in a wide range of temperatures, while that of the latter is very small, such as that of tropical plants or plants in very cold areas , which require greater specialization.

When a plant needs to adapt to the cold, what it usually does is develop tools or systems to reduce its metabolism as much as possible, especially during times of lower temperatures. They tend to be deciduous and small in size to make freezing difficult. Many of them complete their life cycle in less than a year, to die in winter and pass the cold season in seed form. In this other post you can learn about the deciduous flora of the deciduous forests: characteristics, flora and fauna . On the other hand, in this other link, you will find tropical flora, adapted to the high temperatures and high humidity of tropical forests: characteristics, flora and fauna .

Plant adaptations to light

The amount of light available is another vital factor for plants, since without it they cannot photosynthesize and make their necessary nutrients. The heliophilous plants are those that require a high light contribution to develop, while esciófilas plants thrive in conditions of shade or partial shade. The former reduce their number of stomata to lose less water when they receive more solar radiation, while the sciophiles increase it by not having problems of excess perspiration.

In environments with great dense vegetation, such as tropical jungles, there are a lot of adaptations of plants in the absence of light , since the competition for this is very great. This is how epiphytic plants appear that grow on the trunks or branches of other plants instead of on the ground. Some examples are:

  • The orchids.
  • Bromeliads.
  • Some ferns.

To further expand this knowledge you can enter here and learn about 25 indoor plants that need little light and Epiphytes: what are they, types and examples .

Plant adaptations in the desert and examples

Plants that develop and live in very dry environments are called xerophytes , that is, they are desert plants . The adaptations of plants in arid areas such as these are very marked, since they are species that need to fight against high temperatures and a shortage of water, in many cases, extreme. To do this, they have adapted by modifying their leaves until they become very narrow and in many cases turning them into thorns , as well as increasing the volume of some parts of their structure, such as the stem, the root or the leaves, so that it becomes a warehouse of water , that’s why we speak of succulent or succulent plants .

Some examples of plant adaptations in these cases are cacti .

  • The Carnegiea gigantea , or saguaro cactus , is a large arboreal cactus, endemic to the Sonoran Desert. This plant, like many succulents, has developed a thick fleshy stem, capable of storing a high amount of water inside. In addition, its leaves are thorns that protect it from herbivorous predation and its root system is extraordinarily extensive despite being shallow, to be able to absorb the little moisture that the soil contains more effectively. In addition, it controls its water loss through perspiration exceptionally well.
  • Other species, such as the so-called mesquites , are trees that develop a deep root system, so deep that it can reach underground water sources more than 40 meters deep and can grow back from their roots.

We encourage you to learn more with this post about 25 desert plants .

If you want to read more articles similar to Plant adaptations: types and examples , we recommend that you enter our Biology category .

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