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Desert plants (house 5)

Since most of the drought tolerant plants in our collection are native to Africa, this house is also called Africa house. Behind glass, on the west side of the greenhouse, is our botanical treasure trove containing the Welwitschia mirabilis, a living fossil, pebble plants (Lithops) and rare Aloe species, amongst others.

Larger plants are placed in the middle, cacti on the left and other succulents on the right.

Larger succulents common in South Africa are planted in the middle of the planting area. The screened planting bed to the east is reserved for succulents from the New World, particularly small cacti.
Note the similarities of the succulents: Although they developed independently on different continents, they have a lot in common. This is due to the daunting conditions of their habitats and a severe lack of water.

Plants populate the whole world and thrive in almost all climates. They cope with severe cold or heat, constantly wet conditions and extreme changes in humidity. Even the arid regions of the world, through their lack of water normally hostile to vegetation, have been conquered by some remarkable plant life forms. Plant life that has adapted to drought conditions looks very much alike on any continent. The independent development of similar traits (e.g. succulence) in relation to similar external conditions (e.g. aridity) in very different lineages is called convergence. A very well known example is the cacti plant family. In most species, the leaves are greatly or entirely reduced and their green thickly stems have evolved to photosynthesise. In America, the typical cacti growing habit has developed in the Cactaceae family and in Africa such shapes have even become apparent in two systematically very different families: the Euphorbiaceae (the cactoid Spurge family) and the Asclepiadaceae (the milkweed family).

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