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The vegetation of the Mojave and Colorado deserts:
Succulent plants are able to store water in their leaves and stems and have a waxy coating to retard water loss. Leaf succulents may have a rosette form, such as in the yuccas and agaves. The leaves are arranged on the stem so as to funnel water towards the plantís roots. Stem succulents have a cylindrical or spherical shape to reduce surface area relative to volume. Most stem succulents in North America are members of the cactus family. Further adaptations in the cactus family are the reduction of leaves to spines, ribs that can expand or contract accordion-like for water storage, and a special type of photosynthesis that allows the plants to open their pores only at night. Cacti with flat pads, such as beavertail (Opuntia basilaris), angle their pads for the least amount of exposure to the summer sun. The tops of barrel cacti have a similar mechanism for minimizing heat by bending to the south.
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