What Plants Live in the Tundra?


Quick Answer

Despite the freezing weather in the Arctic Circle, a vast number of plants thrive in the tundra biome, including different types of mosses, lichens, shrubs, flowers and other low-lying plants. These resilient plants have adapted to the tundra's short growing season and harsh environment.

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Full Answer

About 1,700 plant species thrive in the Arctic Circle near the North Pole, the coldest of all the Earth's biomes. The plants thrive in the short summer and remain dormant during the long winter season. Most of the plants grow close together and stay low to the ground to withstand the cold climate and extremely strong winds.

The Calliergon giganteum, or Arctic moss, is an aquatic plant that grows on the bottom of lake beds and around ferns and bogs in the tundra. Instead of roots, they have rhizoids, or miniscule rootlets. The moss doesn't grow flowers, and it reproduces by sending out spores or growing shoots. When Arctic moss grows near the ground, it covers most of the land in the Arctic, acting as an insulator for other plants in the tundra.

Flowering plants in the Arctic produce flowers as soon as summer arrives. Most grow in clumps, such as purple saxifrage, which is also one of the earliest flowers to bloom. The tiny star-shaped flowers bloom even as the snow melts. The yellow Arctic poppy grows up to 16 inches tall. Its flower leans toward the sun, allowing its cup-shaped petals to easily absorb solar energy for quick growth.

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