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Field Ecology Topics: Plant Adaptations


  • Examples of topics re plant adaptations
  • Plant structure & function: Background information
  • Leaf morphology: background information
  • Pollination ecology: Primary sources
  • Leaf & plant morphology: Primary sources

Examples of topics for "Plant Adaptations"

  • Leaf adaptations for herbivory defense
  • Leaf wettability/water repellency
  • Stomata adaptations
  • Leaf adaptations to maximize photosynthesis
  • Flower adaptations for pollinator attraction
  • Characteristics of invasive plants
  • Leaf adaptations to minimize water loss

Pollination ecology

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Leaf adaptations: Basic background

Source: Leaf. (2014, March 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:09, March 10, 2014, from

In the course of evolution, leaves have adapted to different environments in the following ways:

  • A certain surface structure avoids moistening by rain and contamination (See Lotus effect).
  • Sliced leaves reduce wind resistance.
  • Hairs on the leaf surface trap humidity in dry climates and create a boundary layer reducing water loss.
  • Waxy leaf surfaces reduce water loss.
  • Large surface area provides large area for sunlight and shade for plant to minimize heating and reduce water loss.
  • In harmful levels of sunlight, specialised leaves, opaque or partly buried, admit light through translucent windows for photosynthesis at inner leaf surfaces (e.g. Fenestraria).
  • Succulent leaves store water and organic acids for use in CAM photosynthesis.
  • Aromatic oils, poisons or pheromones produced by leaf borne glands deter herbivores (e.g. eucalypts).
  • Inclusions of crystalline minerals deter herbivores (e.g. silica phytoliths in grasses, raphides in Araceae).
  • Petals attract pollinators.
  • Spines protect the plants (e.g. cacti).
  • Special leaves on carnivorous plants are adapted to trapping food, mainly invertebrate prey, though some species trap small vertebrates as well (see carnivorous plants).
  • Bulbs store food and water (e.g. onions).
  • Tendrils allow the plant to climb (e.g. peas).
  • Bracts and pseudanthia (false flowers) replace normal flower structures when the true flowers are greatly reduced (e.g. Spurges)