Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
11 ratings

Saturday - June 23, 2007

From: London, Other
Region: Other
Topic: General Botany
Title: Where do plants grow?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Where do plants grow?

ANSWER:

Plants grow everywhere. They grow on land, in the ocean, in lakes and rivers, on mountain tops, and in the desert. Even Antarctica, perhaps the harshest climate in the world, has two flowering plants. Pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) and Antarctic hairgrass (Deschampsia antarctica). In the polar regions (Arctic and Antarctic) the growing season is very short, less than three months, and limited to when the soil warms enough to thaw. The predominant plants are grasses and sedges and most plants remain very short, usually less than one foot or 20 cm. One of the Antarctic plants, Deschampsia antarctica, has adapted to its harsh environment by producing antifreeze proteins.

Deserts also have flowering plants. Many of the desert plants have special adaptations to survive long periods without water. One of the major adaptations is to have a small surface area to reduce water loss. Desert plants tend to have small leaves that are thick and waxy, or no leaves at all. Succulent desert plants, such as the cacti, are able to store water in their thick stems.

Plants grow in the mountains at very high elevations such as in the Himalayas in Nepal Mosses and lichens are found as high as 6300 meters (~20,600 feet). The vascular plant Stellaria decumbens, has been found growing in mats at 6100 m (~20,000 feet). Not only do they have to contend with cold temperatures and short growing seasons, but they also have to deal with increased levels of UV light because of the thin atmosphere. Many of them have a red pigment, anthocyanin, that helps protect them from the high levels of UV light.

 

More General Botany Questions

Difference between Convallaria majalis and Convallaria majuscula
May 17, 2012 - How do you tell the difference in the native convallaria from the European species?
view the full question and answer

Use of native non-vascular plants from Pisgah Forest NC
February 11, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Some of the smartest native plants around to use as horticultural choices don't require any chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides; tolerate extreme weather including ...
view the full question and answer

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone of Worcester, Massachusetts
November 11, 2008 - What zone is Worcester, Massachusetts?
view the full question and answer

20 years to bloom
May 02, 2007 - My girlfriend and i have come up with an interesting question, we were wondering if there is a plant in existance that takes over 20 years to bloom, and how many different kinds (if any) there are? We...
view the full question and answer

Seed for Kosteletzkya virginica, salt marsh mallow
January 13, 2009 - I have a nursery in North Carolina. We are looking for a reliable seed source for kosteletzkya virginica salt marsh mallow. We are www.campbellfamilynursery.com
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.