A geophyte (geo = earth, phyte = plant or growth) is a plant with an underground storage organ. This storage organ contains reserves of carbohydrates and water and helps the plant survive adverse environmental conditions such as cold or drought. Although often considered dormant when the above-ground portion of the plant dies back, geophytes are physiologically active, continuing to sense the environment and change, as it prepares to resume growth when conditions are more favorable.
Common forms of geophytes include true bulbs, corms, tubers, tuberous roots, enlarged hypocotyls, and rhizomes. Plants with these growth forms can be found in every environmental niche from the tropics to the tundra and wet locations to the desert. This border alone contains over 200 different types. Because of their drought tolerance, many geophytes are excellent choices for water-wise landscapes.
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