What Kind of Plant Life Grows in a Boreal Forest?

Mike Beauregard/CC-BY 2.0

Coniferous trees are the predominate type of plant life in the boreal or taiga forest. These include plants such as firs, pines, larches, hemlocks and spruces. In addition to coniferous plants, mosses and lichen are also found in these regions.

Many animals take advantage of the coniferous plants that exist in the boreal forest. All of the plants contain cones and seeds. Mammals and birds sometimes forage for these seeds inside the cones. Mosses and lichens may also be used as food sources. Climate conditions in the boreal forest can be cold and snowy. This, in conjunction with acidic conditions produced from fallen cone needles, decreases the quality of the soil, as it reduces decomposition on the forest floor, making nutrients less available. The plants that exist in the region have several adaptations to accommodate this lack of nutrients. Parasitism, carnivory and mycorrhizae are all examples of tactics used by plants to survive these conditions. Threats to the plants in the boreal forest are mostly due to human activities that exploit the ground for commerce, such as drilling for oil and natural gas reserves. Scientists have warned of the potential of global warming to change the conditions of the forest so that it is more conducive for deciduous trees, reducing the population of conifers.