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How Does a Cactus Survive?



How Does a Cactus Survive?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.77

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    leaf-shaped, bayonet, adaptation, driest, gluey, photosynthesis, flowerpot, survival, additional, rainwater, valuable, environment, saguaro, dioxide, carbon, stems
     content words:    Sonoran Desert


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How Does a Cactus Survive?
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     Adaptations. We put on coats in wintertime because it's cold outside. That's an adaptation. Some of us put on glasses so that we can see to read. That's an adaptation. Some of us use a stepladder to reach something on a high shelf. That's an adaptation. People use adaptations for all sorts of things. Anything that helps us get along better in our environment is an adaptation.
 
2     Animals and plants use adaptations, too. Without them, it would be impossible to survive in harsh environments such as the desert. One plant with some amazing adaptations is the cactus.
 
3     In fact, a cactus is a marvel of adaptation. It thrives in the hottest, driest climates where few other plants can survive. From a tiny barrel cactus in a flowerpot to a monster saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert, these plants have many specialized survival features.
 
4     The sections of a saguaro cactus are called stems. The leaf-shaped sections that make up a prickly pear cactus are called pads. All of these parts that make up a cactus are designed especially for life in the desert. Cactus parts are basically reservoirs waiting to be filled with water. When it finally does rain in the desert, cacti collect and store an amazing amount of water. A large saguaro can take in three thousand liters of water in just ten days - enough to keep it alive for months.

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