Deserts provide a seemingly hostile environment in which plants can, nevertheless, survive and grow. This book, originally published in 1992, considers the ecological strategies adopted by desert succulents to overcome these problems. Much fresh data on the physiological ecology of succulent plants of southern Africa is presented - the results of more than ten years' work by the authors, both in the field and the laboratory. This information forms the basis for a better understanding of the water relations and carbon balance of succulents during short- and long-term drought and leads the authors to a definition of succulence as a tool for the temporary storage of water, essential for the conservation of physiological performance during times of drought. The authors conclude by providing a basic scheme in which the significant functional aspects of succulent life strategies are given, revealing the main trends in the biology of these fascinating plants.