Xerophytes: Definition, Adaptation & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Cryptogams: Classification & Characteristics

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 What Are Xerophytes?
  • 0:51 Adaptations
  • 2:25 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dominic Corsini
Have you ever wondered how plants survive in areas with very little water? Xerophytes have adapted over thousands of years to live in harsh conditions. This lesson will introduce you to the characteristics that enable xerophytes to survive.

What Are Xerophytes?

Plant life on Earth is nothing if not resilient. Have you ever taken a moment to think about the wide variety of differing habitats that exist on the planet? It's incredible, and yet from outer space the earth appears just blue and green. How can plants colonize every corner of the globe? Especially in those extremely dry climates.

Well, there is a specialized group of plants called xerophytes that survive in very dry regions. Xerophytes can live in these environments because they contain specialized features that help them prevent water loss.

It's also worth noting that dry environments are not always hot. People tend to think of deserts being very dry, and they are, but so is Antarctica and it's bitterly cold. So remember that dry areas can be hot or cold depending on geographic location.


The types of adaptations possessed by xerophytes are extensive! We'll focus here on broad adaptations shared by several different species. The first adaptation has to do with their stomata and limiting water loss. Stomata are the microscopic openings in leaves that permit gas exchange. Think of them as pores for plants. And just like human pores release sweat, plant stomata release water in the form of water vapor. Certain xerophytes have a waxy covering over their stomata, thus curbing water loss. Others contain very few stomata, or stomata that only open at night when it's cooler. Each of these adaptations limits water loss and allows the plant to survive in dry environments. An example of this type of plant is Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa). This plant can survive in harsh dry desert environments because of its waxy covering.


The second type of adaptation is focused on storing water instead of just limiting water loss. To do this plants have developed succulent leaves, plant stems, or tubers that can store water when it cannot be obtained directly from the environment.


To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account