Sand armour: How it provides plants with an edge up in survival
Plants have evolved a dizzying array of morphological and biochemical defences; a deceptively simple one involves sand. Some plants actively coat themselves in sand, termed psammophory, as an ingenious adaptation for survival. While the functional significance of psammophory is understudied, experimental data from Abronia latifolia and Navarretia mellita suggests that it acts as a mechanical defence against herbivory within dune habitats. This defence stems from both the damaging and non-nutritive properties of sand and the lasting detrimental effects it has on herbivore physiology. While sand armour may seem like an unusual adaptation, it certainly can deter herbivores by giving them something to chew on.
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