Drought-deciduous plants before and after the rain
Drought-deciduous plants have adapted to drop many or all of their leaves in dry seasons and/or drought to conserve water. Then revive with a quick, vibrant growth of leaves upon arrival of the rains, followed by flowers. Thus they can be an inspiration for us to similarly conserve in times of scarcity, then celebrate/share in times of abundance. They show us the seasons.
All plants featured (except for one receiving greywater) get all their water only from passively harvested rain and stomwater where on average we receive 11 inches of annual rainfall (but this year, in our neighborhood, we are on track to receive less than the average). They do NOT get any irrigation water from a municipal supply or well.
If these plants got supplemental irrigation in the form of virgin municipal water or well water in dry times they would not drop as many leaves or for as long, but then they would be consuming more water, when they could be helping us conserve it.
All, but one of these featured plants is native to the Tucson Basin, and thus exceptionally well-adapted to our climate, soil, and wildlife.
The following photographs were taken in the summer of 2022 (a drought year) in the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood in Tucson Arizona. Before photos were taken after our hottest, driest month of June.
I share these images with you, so you can see the stark seasonal differences in the plants’ appearance, in hopes that you’ll better appreciate these plants, and so you won’t mistake them for dead and remove them in the dry months.
By dropping their leaves in dry times, these plants loose less water via evapotranspiration through their leaves.
With many of these drought-deciduous/drought-dormant plants if you try to bend one of their leafless twigs and it bends, instead of immediately snapping in two, it is very alive.
If the drought-deciduous appearance is too stark for you, consider pairing a drought-deciduous plant with an evergreen plant as is the case below…