Definitions

Calyptridium umbellatum

Fellfield

A fellfield or fell field comprises the environment of a slope, usually alpine or tundra, where the dynamics of frost (freeze and thaw cycles) and of wind give rise to characteristic plant forms in scree interstices.

The freeze-thaw cycles tend to push plants out of the soil. In addition, the high porosity of the soil makes a fellfield a difficult place for plants to grow.

There is some controversy in applying "fellfield" to an ecosystem, since it strictly refers to the geology, rather than the botany of such a region. Fellfields are usually applied to tundra regions of Europe: it is controversial whether the term should apply to other continents.

Fellfields are typically populated by cushion plants: perennials that grow close to the ground, with a long taproot. Cushion plants are well-adapted to the dryness and short growing season of a fellfield. Cushion plants often have profuse blooms and hairy foliage (to retain moisture). Examples of cushion plants include the lupines and buckwheats.

Fellfields often have typical patterns of rocks: lines of rocks that have been pushed out of the soil, and slid into a low region.

Typical fellfield species

References

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