By Rod Preston-Mafham

This dictionary concentrates at the globular cacti, really Mammillaria, yet comprises a few renowned columnar cactus types akin to Echinocereus.

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5 MPa, although some need soils wetter than –1 MPa, while others may be able to continue withdrawing water from the soil at water potentials as low as –4 MPa. When the soil becomes drier, mesophytic plants close their stomata and wait until conditions improve. In a typical mesic (moist) habitat, that may be a few hours or a few days. If the drought extends for many days (a few weeks is all that most of them can tolerate), many mesophytes will begin to die. Most crops, ornamental plants, forest trees, common meadow and forest wildflowers, and other familiar plants are mesophytes.

Many of these plants also have thick roots and underground stems that are capable of storing food for long periods of time. These structures enable them to survive extended drought periods and allow rapid production of leaves and stems when conditions become favorable again. Another way in which some species avoid drought is to grow only in the wettest places within a dry environment, such as in low spots where water temporarily collects after rains, or along temporary streams. Such plants typically lack adaptations for extreme aridity and the seedlings will die if their seeds germinate in drier microhabitats.

Both positive and negative pressure potentials exist in plants, and both are important driving forces for the movement of water within the plant and between the soil, the plant, and the atmosphere. Gravitational potential results from the pull of gravity on water, and it is largely responsible for water draining from the largest pores of the soil in the first few days after a saturating rain (see Chapter 4). It is negative when the water is moving downward, since the water is losing potential energy.

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