For the study, George Washington University reserachers constructed an evolutionary tree of more than 32,000 species of flowering plants to understand how plants evolved to withstand cold. They found that many plants acquired unique characteristics even before they encountered freezing.
Previous studies supported by plant fossil finds established that ancient plants thrived in warmer temperatures. However, due to climatic changes and shift in habitat to higher latitudes and elevations, plants evolved in such a way that they could cope with the cold. Currently, there are some plant species like the Arctic cinquefoil and three-toothed saxifrage that can survive in temperatures below -14°Celsius.
While animals fight the cold by shifting to different locations or generating heat to keep themselves warm, plants are incapable of doing any of these. The snow on the ground poses some major problems for them. Freezing temperatures result in the formation of air bubbles that block the internal water transport system in plants.