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Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 47 acres of botanical bliss fronting the Pacific Ocean

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Succulents & Mediterranean Garden

California is characterized by a Mediterranean climate; cool, moist winters and dry summers. Mediterranean climates are typical of areas between 30- and 35-degrees latitude on the west coasts of continents. Mediterranean climates are found in California, the Mediterranean region of Europe, South Africa, Chile, and small parts of Australia. Plants that are native to these areas have adaptations that enable them to survive long summer droughts, often months without rain.

These adaptations are critical to the survival of plants that keep their leaves in summer. Our Succulent Garden plants exhibit small, leathery, thick leaves that may be white-colored, waxy, or hairy. Vertical leaf orientation reduces the surface area of the leaf exposed to the sun during the hottest part of the day. Waxy coatings help reduce water loss through the epidermis. Light colored coatings or hairs on stems  reflect light and reduce the overall temperature of the plant (like the difference between wearing a white and a black T-shirt on a sunny day). Hairs on the undersides of leaves trap a boundary layer of still, relatively moist air. Thick leaves reduce the surface area that is exposed to the sun.  Tiny or absent leaves reduce the amount of material exposed to dry air and hot sun. For example, cacti carry on photosynthesis in succulent, green stems, instead of in leaves. Stomata, openings through which water vapor escapes, are located on the undersides of leaves away from direct sunlight.