Cactuses Aren't the Only Plants
WORDS to KNOW
Golden poppies, pink clover, yellow brittlebush, and blue lupine dot large areas of the Sonoran Desert soon after spring rains. These plants are ephemeral, or short-lived.
Ephemeral plants sprout quickly after desert storms. When the weather dries up again, they wither and die. In between, they blossom brightly and produce seeds. The seeds have special coatings. They keep the seed from sprouting until the next heavy rains come.
Other plants deal with dry spells differently. The mesquite tree grows near gullies and dry riverbeds. Its long tap roots draw water from deep underground. In contrast, other plants have shallow roots that spread over a large area.
Yuccas use some of the same survival strategies as cactuses. The Joshua tree, for example, has hairy spines covering its trunk. The tree's leaves are long and narrow.
The ocotillo plant is also called the fire thorn or coachwhip plant. This southwestern American plant drops its leaves during parched periods, which helps it conserve moisture.
The creosote bush's poisonous roots keep other plants from crowding in. This lets the bush's roots spread out to soak up scarce water.