Design your own Adaptable Plant

Adaptations are skills which help an animal or plant to survive in their environment. They develop over time. Adaptations can be physical or behavioral.
A close up picture of a Desert Tortoise
A desert tortoise burrow in underground homes to escape the desert heat.

Photo: NPS / Renata Harrison

Physical adaptations are changes to a plant or an animal’s appearance over time. Desert tortoises have a hard shells around its body to protect itself. This is an example of a physical adaptation.
Two bats fly from the mouth of a cave
The California leaf-nosed bat's hearing is so good that they can hear the footsteps of a cricket!

Photo: NPS / Kristen Lalumiere

A behavioral adaptation is a change to animals’ daily actions. Some desert animals are nocturnal animals, which means they are active at night and sleep during the day. The California leaf-nosed bat prefer the night time because it is cooler. They want to avoid the daytime desert heat. This is a behavioral adaption.
Joshua Tree at sunset surrounded by rocks
Joshua tree leaves’ have developed thick, waxy skins to prevent loss of water in the desert heat.

Photo: NPS / Kelsey Graczyk

Some desert plants survive in their environment by storing water inside themselves. Living things need water to survive. You have water inside your body, and Joshua trees have water inside their trunks. Joshua trees protect that water by having bark. By folding their old leaves down over their trunks they keep shaded so they stay cool.

1. On a separate sheet of paper draw a plant that grows near you.

2. What adaptations does your plant have?

3. Draw some extra adaptations that could help it survive in the desert.

Part of a series of articles titled Joshua Tree Virtual Junior Ranger Program.

Joshua Tree National Park

Last updated: August 1, 2020