Desert room

Dry, drier, driest

Do you remember the humid rainforest rooms where plants competed for light in the treetops? Here the situation is the opposite: light is plentiful, but the plants stretch their roots underground to compete for water.

Water is necessary for all life. We humans need to drink approximately one litre of water per hour to survive in a desert where the temperature is 38 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, desert plants have adapted to the aridity in unexpected ways!

Look at the plants around you. Do you see leaves covered with shiny wax or white hairs? What about spines? The shiny surface reduces evaporation, and the light-coloured hair reflects the sun’s rays away from the plant. Did you know that the leaves of many plant species have evolved into spines to prevent the evaporation of water and discourage hungry herbivores?

Get to know the plants in this room:

The desert room.
The prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a cactus that stores water in its succulent stems. The spines on the stems are actually its leaves.