Activity V

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Being water-wise

A school always looks lively with a garden. However if you look closely, maintaining the garden also requires water. Sometimes a lot of water is required if the garden covers a big area and has plants that require a lot of watering. How can we help in managing the water usage here? Simple! By making the school gardener water-wise! Ask the gardener the following questions:

  1. From where does the water for gardening purposes come?
  2. Check whether the water used is recycled or freshly obtained.
  3. What is the amount of water used per day to maintain the garden?

This will help the gardener keep a check in his daily gardening water requirement, leading towards a more judicious use of water.

i. With the help of your biology teacher, try to spot plants which are xerophytes (Greek word for dry plant, which require very little amount of water for their survival. They are characteristic plants of desert and semi-desert regions) in your school garden. Cactus and succulents are xerophytic plants. Make a list of all the plant species.

ii. If there are no xerophytic plants, then what are the types of plants available in your area/locality/district? Use the above list to find out the plant type.

iii. If there are any plants that require a lot of watering, then suggest the gardener to switch to more of xerophytic plants which are suitable to the soil. Xerophytes can grow in mesophytic conditions where available water is in sufficient quantity. These plants can withstand extreme dry conditions, low humidity and high temperature.

iv. Here is a list of xerophytic plants that can be planted in the school garden:

Aloe spinosissima (Spider Aloe), Sedum acre (Goldmoss acre), Mesembryanthemum (Ice Plant), Kleinia ficoides (Balsamina)and several members of family Chaenopodiaceae. Their leaves become remarkably fleshy owing to storage of excess amount of water and latex.

Casuarina equisetifolia (Horsetail tree), Ruscus aculeatus (Butcher’s broom), Asparagus officinalis (Shatavari/ Asparagus). Their leaves fall early in the season.

Pinus is an evergreen xerophyte. Grows on hilly, sloping terrain.

Ulex parviflorus (Mediterranean gorse), Opuntia ficus indica (Cactus pear), Euphorbia splendens (Christ Plant), Capparis (Ker) and Acacia  (Wattles). Their leaves are reduced to spine.

Zizyphus (Chinese date), Nerium (Kaner/Oleander), Calotropis procera (Aak/Sodom apple) have hairy covering on the leaves and stems.


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