Plant morphological traits respond to drought in a rather flexible way; however, there is recent evidence of exceptions. In a new study published in AoB PLANTS, Zhang et al. examined the effect of drought on morphological traits of seedlings of a desert shrub (Haloxylon ammodendron, a widely distributed shrub in desert regions of Asia and Africa) and found that the species has an ‘intrinsic habit’ of investing preferentially in the roots, irrespective of drought. What is more, this inflexibility promotes its physiological recovery after drought and makes it survive in the severe desert environment. That is to say, persistence will pay off.