Deserts are mostly found in the east but a few are also found in the western region of the Americas. They are very hot places with low moisture and barren waste lands. When you think desert what normally jumps into your head is sand cactus and clear skies with the sun beating down on you. The maximum temperature for a desert can climb up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature in winter only drops a few degrees and it receives a small amount of humidity. The average amount of rainfall year round is less than 15 cm. Vegetation is very rare, it’s mostly restricted to ground-hugging shrubs and woody trees. All the leaves are replete. Typical animals include small nocturnal carnivores. There are also insects, arachnids, reptiles, and birds. In American deserts is the barrel cactus. The barrel cactus is easily distinguished from other cacti because of its cylinder-shaped body. It is one of the largest cacti in North America reaching a staggering eleven feet tall. Running down the spines are 3-4 inch spines and on top are rings of yellow-green or red blossoms. Native Americans used to boil them into cabbage-like stews. They would also grind up the pulp and extract the water. Another plant native to deserts is the brittle bush. IT is a small deciduous shrub which grows as a low roundish mound 2-5 ft high. The branches sprout from woody trunks. On the branches are leaves about 1-4 inches long that are covered in a thick mat of short hairs. They act as an insulator against the heat by trapping moisture to reduce the amount lost to perspiration. Deserts do have trees such as the Joshua tree. The largest of the Yucca trees it is only native to the Mojave Desert. Climbing up to 40 feet tall its average lifespan is 200 years. Surprisingly it is a member of the lily family and its habitat is similar to that of a palm tree. It grows creamy yellow and green flowers. To survive in the heat of the desert it has developed a double root system....
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