Arid Lands

Environmental extremes

  • Built in 1967
  • Desired temperature: 10 - 25ºC
  • Relative humidity: 40%

Mammilaria spinosissima from Morelos and Guerrero states, MexicoLying at the east end of the main glasshouse range, the Arid Lands House is home to plants from the arid regions of the world, from North America, southern Africa, Arabia and Madagascar.

Arid areas cover a fifth of the earth's surface and have less than 50 cm of rainfall a year and with temperatures fluctuating between -18ºC to 30ºC. All the plants show extraordinary tolerance of dry conditions. Some, such as Agave and Aloe, have fleshy leaves in which water is stored, while others have leaves that are nothing more than spines, this is an adaptation to reduce water loss.

Thelocactus rinconensis from Coahuila and Nuevo Leon, Mexico Plants are grouped by desert ecosystem, from North America we have Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts and from Africa the Nama Karoo and Succulent Karoo deserts. Madagascar & Arabia are also represented.

Different stone types are used for each region, making it easy to recognise the zones and plants from each area.

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View across the African zones of the Arid Lands House

View across the African zones of the Arid Lands House.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)