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Shrubs of the Great Basin desert in Utah are subjected to a prolonged summer drought. One potential consequence of drought is a reduced water transport capability of the xylem. This is due to drought-induced cavitation. We used the centrifuge method to measure the vulnerability of root and stem xylem to cavitation in six native shrub species. The shrubs fall into three categories with regards to rooting depth, vegetative phenology and plant water status during drought. The “summer green� group (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, Atriplex canescens, Atriplex confertifolia) sustains summer drought with a relatively shallow root system (<2.5 m), but maintains leaf area. A “drought deciduous� group (Grayia spinosa,...