A desert usually reminds of an environment where a living being can not survive. Indeed the number of living beings living in desert are quite few. However when this arid environment is closely examined, many plants that can survive under very harsh conditions attract one’s attention. Those plants that sleep in order to survive are one of these living beings.
Desert plants employ a few methods to struggle against heat and thirst. One of these methods is to “remain in sleep.” Those plants that resist thirst and aridness by means of their special structures are called “Ephemeral” plants. These plants generally live for a year and resist to thirst by remaining in sleep as a seed. Once the rain falls they become green in very short time and their seedlings grow very rapidly. Flowering happens in a very short while and thus the plant can proceed to the phase of producing seeds in a few weeks.
In desert rainfall is not of a steady nature. That is why if all seeds of ephemerals were to green by a single rainfall and were to die with a sudden drought, they would go extinct. But the majority of these plants have mechanisms that ensure the greening of their seeds only after a satisfactory amount of rainfall. These plants possess a trait called “seed polymorphism” that can differentiate the timing of the greening of seeds. This aside, there is also a material preventing the greening of seeds. When water reaches the seed for the first time, the surfacing is completed. However for the seed to go green, this protective material must become ineffective. This process occurs by the time the seed meets water. If water does not pour for a second time, that is, if no rain falls, the seed can not sprout. For this reason seeds need two phases to get wet; the first one causes the seeds to surface while the second one removes the material that prevents renewal and only after the elimination of this renewal material the greening process occurs. The seeds of some ephemerals can only green in darkness. Following a series of wetting and drying, the outer surface of the seed changes and ensures the free transition of oxygen to the embryo. The combination of these essential factors causes the seed to go green only after being buried and receiving rainfall several times.
The examination of these desert plants reveal an impressive picture. Some plants are equipped with special systems and structures to survive in deserts. Desert plants store water, make camouflage and go to sleep. Some, on the other hand, prevents the greening of seeds by some chemical methods. As is seen, in an environment where all sorts of deprivation and difficulties prevail, there are many species of plants and methods of protection against heat. With their superior features, these plants that survive in an environment supposed to be desolate once again reveal Allah’s infinite knowledge and artistry. In one verse Allah relates the following:
“What is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to Allah. Allah encompasses all things. (Surat al- An-Nisa’, 126)