Plant Adaptations

What is Plant Adaptation?

Plant Adaptation is a unique feature a plant has that allows it to live and survive in its own particular habitat (the place that it lives).

Have you heard about the plant which eats insects?
Or, have you ever thought about how cactus survive without water and why some plants are poisonous?

The reason plants have developed features which makes them able to survive in their environments, they live in. These features are called adaptations.

Every living thing needs home/shelter and surroundings to live in, to grow and survive. Habitat is the place where living things (including plants) live. Not all plants can live in the same kind of habitat. Such as cactus plants can not survive in a rainforest habitat.

In the same manner Rubber Tree, which is a tropical rainforest habitat tree, can not survive in a desert habitat.


Did you know?

There is a cactus native to Morocco that is hotter than any chili pepper known to man.

Desert Plant Adaptations

As desert plants receive very little water and plenty of sunlight, they usually have special features of storing and conserving water.


  • They have spines or thorns instead of leaves. This adaptation characteristic minimizes (make less) the surface area and so reduces water loss by transpiration.
  • The leaf and stem size of a desert plant is comparatively small because they need to distribute less water instead of spreading it out over a wider surface area.
  • Plants lie dormant for years until rain falls
  • A shallow root system of the cactus allows it to absorb as much water as possible when it rains.
  • Spikes protect cacti from animals.

Tropical RainForest Adaptations


A rain forest is an environment that gets a lot of rain. Also, the weather in the rain forest is warm throughout the year.

A few examples of tropical rainforest plants are Avocado Trees, Orchids, Ferns, Bromeliads, Banana Trees, Rubber Trees, Bamboo, Trees, Cacao, etc.

Grassland Adaptations


  • Grassland is also called Prairies (places that have lots of grass) and have hot summers and cold winters.
  • Rainfall is uncertain and drought is common. The soil of grassland is very rich in organic materials. Because all the grass dies from the grassland every year, its nutrients are also added to the soil.
  • The roots of the prairie grass extend deep into the ground to absorb as much water. Their deep roots also help them to survive the prairie fires.
  • Some grassland trees have thick bark to resist fire. Prairie shrubs readily resprout after fire.
  • They have narrow leaves because they contain less water.
  • Soft stems help prairie grass to bend in the wind.
  • Examples of grassland adaptations plants: buffalo grass, needle grass, foxtail, etc

Tundra Adaptations


  • The tundra is a very cold place. It is an environment that does not get much rain but it is quite windy. Grounds of the tundra environment mostly covered by Ice and snow.
  • Tundra plants are small in size and are close together.
  • Tundra plants have hairy stems and small leaves.
  • Tundra plants don’t need soil to grow.
  • Examples of tundra adaptations plants are Arctic Moss, dwarf shrubs, herbs, grasses, and lichens.

Aquatic Plant Adaptations

  • There are different types of aquatic plants with different adaptive characteristics. They are fully floating, submerged or partially submerged.
  • Underwater leaves and stems help plants to move along water current.
  • The stems of some plants have air space that helps keep the plant in water.
  • Underwater plants have leaves with large air pockets to absorb oxygen from water.
  • Some plants produce swimming seeds.
  • Aquatic plants have floating leaves in which chlorophyll is restricted only on the top surface which is green in color.
  • Example of aquatic plants (underwater plants) are water lily, lotus, duckweed, giant Salvinia, etc.
  • Few more plant adaptations examples are Temperate Rainforest Adaptation, Taiga Adaptation, etc.
Visit here to know more plant adaptations for kids.
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