From Jungle to Desert and In Between

Xerophytes are also known as xeric plants or waterwise plants and can come from many environments.

The name ‘xerophyte’ comes from xero, or dry, and phyte means plant.


Some xerophytes originate in jungle conditions, growing in the tree canopy – these are also referred to as epiphytes; others are native to deserts, cliffs and other dry climates.

Desert plants evolve in arid climates with sometimes years between rains.

Jungle xerophytes depend on the moisture from periodic fog and mist high in the mountain forests.

Dependent on limited soil moisture and rainfall, xerophytes have adapted to these conditions with drought smart strategies evolved over generations to help them cope with the challenges of their habitats.

Some of the water storage methods that xerophytes pass down to their progeny are their form – most if not all xerophytes are succulent plants, meaning they use their stems, leaves and roots to store water when it is plentiful, saving it in their own tissues for use in dry times.


Xerophytes can be succulents or other drought tolerant plants…

Adapting to drought is their saving grace, but they also have modified other aspects of their form too. Storing moisture is one thing, preventing it from being lost from open pores another.

Most xerophytes have thick waxy skin, or even prickles or spines to protect them from moisture loss, animal predation and insect or disease.

Many also have the ability to blend into their environment to avoid detection, such as the self burial of Lithops into the soil surface, allowing them to remain protected from thirsty animals as well as the heat from the baking sun.

Lithops are also skilled in mimicry, and avoid predation by appearing as part of the environment, not a plant at all.

Xerophytes as a group are fascinating, with a wide array of very successful survival skills. Add some to your collection today.