Covering one-third of the Earth’s land surface, deserts are an important biome. They range from the frozen, barren surface of Antarctica to the sweltering heat of the Sahara in northern Africa. While their dearth of rainfall can be harsh for plants, their severe climatic conditions also lead to adaptations that allow plants to flourish, even in the most challenging environments. Many adaptations evolved independently in multiple plant lineages, a process known as convergent evolution.
Our desert biome focuses on subtropical deserts, commonly associated with succulent plants and sparse, thorny vegetation. We host species from the deserts of Brazil, the Horn of Africa, and the Island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean.
Pictured: Melocactus from Northeastern Brazil