In the Nunavut Territory, which is inhabited by less then 32,000 people as stated in a 2011 census, only the hardiest types of plants survive in the Canadian wilderness. Although the summers are short and the winters long, there are 200 flowering plant species in addition to lichens, mosses, evergreen and wetland shrubs, cotton grass, berries and Arctic willows. The official flower of the Nunavut Territory is the purple saxifrage, which is the northernmost flowering plant worldwide.
The average temperature for most of the year in Canada's Nunavut Territory is below freezing. The plant species in the region have developed many adaptations to survive the severe conditions, such as protecting themselves from the cold temperatures by crowding together. This results in the formation of small microclimates. In addition to promoting metabolism and photosynthesis, the temperature within these groupings can be significantly higher than the air around them. Unlike many plants in the temperate latitudes that can be destroyed by freak low temperature conditions, plants in Canada's northern wilderness can be frozen, and then thaw without suffering any damaging effects.
The Inuit people living in the Nunavut Territory, where there are no metropolitan areas, use the hardy plants for both fuel and food. The leaves, fruits and flowers of the Arctic fireweed are made into a salad and the leaves are also used for making tea. The cranberries, blueberries and crowberries of the region are also popular food items among the Inuit.