xerophyte [%PREMIUM_LINK%] (zîr'ə-fīt') Pronunciation Key |
A plant that is adapted to an arid environment. Many xerophytes have specialized tissues (usually nonphotosynthetic parenchyma cells) for storing water, as in the stems of cacti and the leaves of succulents. Others have thin, narrow leaves, or even spines, for minimizing water loss. Xerophyte leaves often have abundant stomata to maximize gas exchange during periods in which water is available, and the stomata are recessed in depressions, which are covered with fine hairs to help trap moisture in the air. Compare hydrophyte, mesophyte.