What Is Tundra Vegetation?

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Tundra vegetation is the plants that grow in regions with extremely cold temperatures year-round. There are two main types of tundra, the arctic and alpine tundra. These two tundras are home to similar types of small shrubs, grasses and mosses.

Tundra is a specific type of biome, or world habitat, and it is characterized by freezing temperatures and treeless landscapes. The arctic tundra is located between the North Pole and the taiga region, and it remains frozen throughout the entire year. Vegetation in the arctic tundra must be able to survive months of continuous darkness in the winter and grow only for brief periods of time when the sun comes out in the summer. For this reason, plants in the arctic tundra are generally short. Small shrubs and grasses are common, as are lichens, mosses and perennial ferns. These have shallow roots, since they are unable to drive deep roots through the hard, frozen soil.

The alpine tundra is found throughout the world at high elevations. Examples of alpine tundra are the tops of the Himalayan Mountains in Southern Asia and the Andes Mountains in South America. Because these areas do not experience the same weeks-long darkness as arctic tundra regions, vegetation does not have to be quite as hardy. Short shrubs and grasses are still the main types of vegetation, but a wider variety of species are able to survive these harsh conditions.