While most plants absorb sunlight and photosynthesize through their leaves throughout the day, for most succulents, these vital processes are also performed by the bulky stem.
All plants have stomata, or pores, on them that allow them to breathe in carbon dioxide necessary for photosynthesis.
In many places with harsh conditions or where there is a very large population of plants competing for limited resources, some plants have developed amazing ways of surviving.
Some are poisonous to prevent animals from killing and eating them, while others have become carnivorous, eating and digesting insects to make up for a lack of nitrogen that most plants would absorb through soil.
While the needles of succulents often make the plants look hazardous, inhospitable, and sometimes just plain ugly, when they flower in the spring, they are some of the most beautiful plants on the planet.
Many cacti flower only at night, closing up during the day because the flowers themselves are often very sensitive to the relentlessly bright rays of the sun.When these pores open to let in the gas, water vapor escapes.This is fine for most plants, but in a desert habitat, this precious water evaporates rapidly.Extremely high temperatures during the day and evening temperatures that often dip below freezing are only the beginning of problems for desert plant life.Scarce rainfall coupled with very dry air make it difficult for plants to obtain water needed for photosynthesis and create competition between animals and plants.Needles are arguably the most important part of all cacti and are without a doubt the most obvious sign that a plant is in fact a succulent.The reason needles are so vital to cactus survival is because they protect the plant's stem, where photosynthesis is performed and water is stored.Many of the succulents that now grow in Asia were chosen specifically for their radiance.There are many different species within the succulent family that are the specimens of ethnobotanical research because of their long history of use among the peoples native to the Central American region.The cell sap of the succulent thus becomes more and more acidic as its night-storage acid batteries become fully charged” (Bellamy).When the sun rises, the plant once again closes its pores and begins taking in sunlight, which allows it to complete the process of photosynthesis by turning the stored acids into glucose, or sugar.