The vegetation of the Mojave and Colorado deserts:
Shrubs are the most common life form in the California
deserts and display the widest assortment of adaptations to
drought and heat stress. Many are drought-deciduous, with
the ability to drop their leaves to stop water loss through
transpiration when conditions become too unfavorable.
Those that retain their leaves year-round are the droughtenduring
evergreen shrubs. They withstand the heat with
diminished or divided leaf surfaces or have pale-colored or
hairy leaves to reflect sunlight. Waxy coatings or very small
pores to minimize water loss are also common adaptations.
Leaves may also be oriented upright for minimum
exposure to the sun. Look for a combination of these
characteristics when examining desert shrubs. Shrubs can
be subdivided into evergreen shrubs such as creosote bush,
drought-deciduous shrubs such as bursage, and winter deciduous
shrubs that have deep roots in riparian habitats.