Adaptation: Xerophytes, Mesophytes and Hydrophytes

Adaptation: Xerophytes, Mesophytes and Hydrophytes


In biology the term ‘adaptation’ refers to the modification oralteration in the general morphological and physiological characteristics of living organisms with respect to the change in the environmental conditions to increase their chances of survival. Adaptation helps living organisms to perform reproduction successfully even in the unfavourable or harsh environmental conditions.

In plant usually the unfavourable or the harsh environmental condition refers to the unavailability or very minimal availability of water, presence of average amount of water and an excess amount of water within their habitat.

On the basis of the environmental condition (i.e., their response to the water condition of their habitat) plants are classified into three types – Xerophytes, Mesophytes and Hydrophytes.

1. Xerophytes

Xerophytes are the certain group of plants which are adapted to livein the extreme dry environmental condition that is in the presence of very minimal amount of water such as: desert or snow-covered area. The species of plants that live in such harsh unfavourable environmental condition undergoes certain morphological and physiological changes for their better survival. 

Examples of xerophytes: Cacti, pineapple and some Gymnosperm plants.

2. Mesophytes

Mesophyte includes those plants which are better adapted to live inthe favourable environmental condition (i.e., neither in the presence of excess amount of water nor in the very minimal availability of water). These are the terrestrial plants and always prefers to live in the soil (especially those soils which does not contain a large amount of salt concentration or those without standing water) and in the presence of air with moderate humidity. They contribute maximum numbers in the ecological group of plants. Almost all the different types of garden plants, agricultural crops, herbs, deciduous tree that we see around us are all mesophytes. 

Examples of mesophytes: Wheat, corn, rose, daisy, clover, etc.    

3. Hydrophytes

Hydrophytes are those species of plants which are adapted to livewithin the habitat with excess amount of water, such plants spend their whole life in the wet environmental condition and so to cope with this unfavourable environmental condition these plants (or hydrophytes) undergoes certain morphological or physiological changes within them to increase the chances of their survival in this environmental condition. Here in the term ‘hydrophyte’ ‘hydro’ means water and ‘phyte’ means plant. Thus aquatic plants are also called as hydrophyte. 

Example of hydrophytes: Lotus, water lily, water hyacinth, hydrilla, vallisneria, etc.

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