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A plant with a deep root system which obtains water from the groundwater or the capillary fringe above the water table.



a plant with an extremely deep root system that uses groundwater as its source of moisture. A classical example is the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), which grows on oases in the Sahara and the Arabian Peninsula. (An ancient Arabic proverb says that the date palm has its head in fire and its feet in water.) Phreatophytes occur in the subtropical eucalyptus forests on the eastern coast of Australia. They serve as indicators of the depth and salinity of the groundwater. For example, the licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is an indicator of fresh water at depths of 5 to 10 m, and Halostachys caspica indicates salt water at depths of 5 to 15 m. Typical phreatophytes include many desert and semidesert plants, for example, camelthorn (Alhagi camelorum), tamarisk (Tamarix), and Achnatherum.

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Schade and Hobbie (2005) found no effect from phreatophytic velvet mesquite trees (Prosopis velutina) on surface (0-10 cm) soil moisture in a riparian zone in the Sonoran Desert, but the depth of the water table relative to height of the capillary fringe was not noted.
The results also suggest a potential for the species, once phreatophytic, to affect competing vegetation by intercepting rising capillary water and thereby desiccating soils above the root system.
Here phreatophytic trees could be used to enhance the degradation of organochlorines such as dieldrin (Schnabel and White 2001), control leaching, and demarcate the area so that stock can be prevented from ingesting contaminated pasture or soil.
1974) (water user salvaged water by removing phreatophytic vegetation; could not get decree to use salvaged water free of call); Salt River Valley Water Users' Assoc.
The original azonal vegetation of these alluvial plains was like that of the parts that remain uncultivated, a closed or open phreatophytic thornforest of mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var.
Additionally, invasion of phreatophytic salt cedar (Tamarix) in riparian zones (Gaskin and Schaal, 2002) may affect flow of streams and quality of riparian habitats (Sala et al.