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Desert Diversity. Thriving in a Dry Place. Plant Adaptations. In the Sonoran Desert areas of Saguaro National Park plants must be able to live in a place that gets less than 12 inches of rain a year, where temperatures can reach 115 degrees and the sun shines more than

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desert diversity

Desert Diversity

Thriving in a Dry Place

plant adaptations
Plant Adaptations

In the Sonoran Desert areas of Saguaro

National Park plants must be able to live

in a place that gets less than 12 inches of

rain a year, where temperatures can reach

115 degrees and the sun shines more than

300 days a year!

plant adaptations3
Plant Adaptations

In places that are not so dry, plants are

known for their large leaves … like a

maple tree’s. But in the desert, leaves

must change so they will not lose water

and dry up in the heat. These special

changes for the desert environment are

called adaptations.

plant adaptations4
Plant Adaptations

Use the photos in this presentation and

the materials and instructions you get

from your teacher to explore the

changes to leaves that have allowed

desert plants to thrive in a dry place!

palo verde tree
Palo Verde Tree

The Palo Verde tree is the State Tree of Arizona, home of Saguaro National Park.

Research: What does “paloverde” mean? (Hint: it’s Spanish.)

creosote bush
Creosote-bush

One of the most common plants in the Sonoran Desert, the creosotebush “smells like rain” when its oils are released into the air during storms.

Research: Creosotebush is greasy like creosote… but what is creosote?

mormon tea
Mormon Tea

Mormon Tea was used has a refreshing and medicinal beverage by Native Americans and settlers alike.

Research: Instead of flowers, Mormon Tea has male and female cones. What plant in your area has cones?

jojoba
Jojoba

Jojoba seeds are a source of an excellent oil that is used instead of whale oil. “The plant that saved whales.”

Research: Find out one common product in your house that may have jojoba oil.

ocotillo
Ocotillo

Ocotillo has bright red, nectar-rich flowers that attract hummingbirds in spring.

Research: What does “ocotillo” mean? (Hint: it’s Spanish.)

yucca
Yucca

The Yucca flower is the State Tree of New Mexico, and common in it’s Chihuahuan Desert.

Research: Find out one common product in your house that may have yucca extract.

agave
Agave

The Agave plant stores water in its leaves for 15 to 30 years. Then it grows a flower stalk, sets seeds, and dies!

Research: Find out one product in an adult drink (Margaritas!) that comes from agave.

saguaro cactus
Saguaro Cactus

The “Giant Cactus” can grow to nearly 60 feet and weigh 20 tons or more!

Research: What state has the Saguaro flower as its state flower?

brittlebush
Brittlebush

Look at the pictures of the dry season and wet season Brittlebush. It’s your call … how does brittlebush change its leaves for the seasons? (There are at least two answers!)

Dry Season

Wet Season

Can you guess why it is called Brittlebush?

desert diversity14
Desert Diversity
  • Bring your green paper when you visit

Saguaro National Park and use it to figure

out how other desert plants have changed

their leaves to survive!

  • All pictures were taken at the Saguaro National Park East Visitor Center, August 2011
  • Photos: J. Wallner Finger model: V. Powers