Plants of arid landscapes have adapted to low rainfall, existing in places where rain may not fall for many years, and also to extreme temperatures, where the daytime temperature can be as high as 50 ºC, dropping to below freezing at night. The plants in this house show how they cope in these conditions.
See the world how plants do in the film below. Professor John Parker, explores how plants — the ‘great chemists of this world’ — have evolved strategies to defend themselves against herbivores.
The landscaping here resembles a dry river bed, and the plants grown here come from Africa and America. Although geographically distant, these species display similar adaptations and mechanisms to survive in such hostile conditions. For example, comparison of the African succulent Euphorbia horrida in the Euphorbiaceae family, with the American Gymnocalycium monvillei subsp. horridispinum in the Cactaceae family, shows similarities in coping mechanisms, despite being completely unrelated.
Both these plants exhibit fleshy stems with ridges that allow expansion to store water, and each ridge is armed with ferocious spines that deter grazers. Similarly, whorled leaf arrangements, that direct rainfall to the roots, occur in many agaves of America and many aloes from Africa.