The anatomical traits associated with water deficit are also observed in plants growing in poor soils. The species may resist water deficit through three main strategies: escape, avoid or tolerate. The Pedregal de San Ángel Ecological Reserve (REPSA), Mexico, is an environment with low nutrient soil and low water availability. It is set on the basalt formation derived from the Xitle volcano eruption. The main vegetation type is characterized as xerophytic shrub. Thus we expect that species growing in this community will show leaf xeromorphic traits and may have any of the three response strategies. We analyzed the foliar anatomy of 52 species of the Asteraceae family at the REPSA because it is the most abundant angiosperm family in the site, showing a wide variety of growth forms and anatomical variation.
The foliar anatomies of the studied Asteraceae were highly variable as well as their quantitative traits as revealed by principal component analysis. This agrees with previous studies that found great anatomical variation within the family. Leaves have multiple layered palisade parenchyma and parenchyma bundle sheaths and could not be categorized as xeromorphic because they possess mesomorphic leaf features as simple lamina, single-layered epidermis, and soft large-size glabrous leaves with high specific leaf area.
The combination of mesomorphic and few xeromorphic foliar traits with other characters at the genus and tribal level probably has been essential in Asteraceae to colonize various environments, including those with low water and nutrient availability.