Melocactus from Northeastern Brazil
Covering one-third of the Earth’s land surface, deserts are an important biome. The range from the frozen, barren surface of Antarctica, to the sweltering heat of the Sahara in northern Africa. The unifying theme of deserts is their dearth of rainfall and can be harsh for plants. Yet, these severe conditions also lead to adaptations that allow plants to flourish, even in the most challenging environments. Many adaptations evolved independently in multiple plant lineages, something known as convergent evolution.
We don’t try to replicate all deserts, and focus only on the subtropical deserts, which are the ones we typically think of with succulent plants and sparse, thorny vegetation. Our plants come from Australia, Arizona, South Africa and Somalia. All of these species, no matter where they call home, are survivors which have evolved to withstand difficult growing conditions and a lack of available water.