You might expect that plants hoping to thrive in California’s boom-or-bust rain cycle would choose to set down roots in a place that can store lots of water underground to last through drought years.
But some of the most successful plant communities in the state — and probably in Mediterranean climates worldwide — that are characterized by wet winters and dry summers have taken a different approach. They’ve learned to thrive in areas with a below-ground water storage capacity barely large enough to hold the water that falls even in lean years.
Surprisingly, these plants do well in both low-water and rainy years precisely because the soil and weathered rock below ground store so little water relative to the rain delivered. Read more