Root systems of desert plants

TitleRoot systems of desert plants
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsGibbens, Robert P.
Pagination4,5 &19
Date Published1994

We are all familiar with the above-ground parts of desert plants. While we may admire and photograph the pretty flowers or unusual plant forms that we can readily see, we seldom think of a major portion of the plant, the root system, which is concealed within the soil. Roots are very important to a plane because they not only anchor the plant in place but also are the means by which the plant acquires water and nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other elements essential to growth). In low rainfall desert environments, water is often the most limiting factor for plant growth, and root systems of desert plants are often shaped to maximize the uptake of this vital element. Quite often, the weight of the root system is equal to or greater than the weight of the above-ground portion of the plant. A knowledge of the morphology or form of root systems is very helpful in understanding the ecology and interactions of the diversity of plant species found in desert environments.