Conifers are adapted not only to colder temperatures, but drier conditions as well, such as those in the southwestern and mountainous regions of the United States. They have several adaptations that help them grow in colder, drier conditions.
- Their needles are heavily cutinized (covered with a protective, waxy coating that slows water vapor loss).
- Their small surface area helps reduce evaporative water loss.
- Needles taste bad to animals, another adaptation that protects the plants produced in stressful environments.
- The retention of needles during the winter months is also an energy-conserving mechanism. Conifers do not have to replace leaves each spring. This saves nutrients that would be lost when leaves are shed.