In this article, you will come to know everything about Arctic plants. Read this article thoroughly to know about:-
1) Their Adaption in the Harsh Climate
2) Their Survival Techniques
2) Name of the Arctic Plants and their features
So, Lets Start!
If we look from the eyes of biology, there is no clear and universally accepted definition of the arctic. But As far as Arctic Plants are concerned, they are often referred to as a group of plants that are grown in the Tundra regions of the World.
A cool fact about Tundra is that it covers about 75% of the land with Permafrost. In Permafrost the ground is completely Frozen, Just Look at the Picture below.
Adaption & Survival Techniques
For the Arctic plants to grow, soil without snow is required as in some places in the Arctic, the ground is frozen most of the year, and months go by without any sunlight.
Now, The question arises that How do they survive?
Only plants with shallow root systems grow in the Arctic tundra because the permafrost prevents plants from sending their roots down past the active layer of soil. The active layer of soil is free from ice for only 50 to 90 days. Well, the plants must survive with little water during the winters so they push their roots deep down under the frozen topsoil to find liquid groundwater.
Also, Arctic Plants use the tactic of growing together so that they can survive in these harsh conditions. They use this growing pattern to resist the effects of cold temperatures and to reduce the damage caused by the impact of particles of ice and snow that is driven by the dry winds. Plants lose water through their leaf surface. It is worth mentioning that by producing small leaves the plant is more able to retain the moisture it has stored as they have a limited amount of water supply.
You must know that the forest grown in the arctic regions are called Boreal Forests or Taiga Forests. You can find these Forests in Alaska although You won’t find them in Antarctica!
Despite the short growing season, When summers arrive in the Tundra Region, the layers of ground ice and thaws melts. Thus liquid water collects in the layer of topsoil which is usually thin. Arctic Plants use this water and the long summer shining days to grow. As the day time hours are usually longer and the availability of ample water, Plants grow very quickly. You can see the thick blanket of grasses, lichens, shrubs, etc. that grows on the arctic soil.
Now Let’s learn about the plants that grow in the Arctic Regions!
They are the species of dwarf shrubs that grow mainly in the Arctic and subarctic climates and have a circumpolar distribution in northern North America, Asia, and Europe. They are mainly of three types-
- Alpine Bearberry
- Red Bearberry
- Common Bearberry
The leaves of Bearberries are used in teas, liquid extracts, medicinal tea bags, and tablets for traditional medicinal uses. They are usually safe but a large intake can cause nausea, vomiting, fever. People with pregnancy, breastfeeding, and kidney ailments should not intake berries and leaves of Bear
2) Arctic Moss
It is an aquatic plant found growing on the bottom of tundra lake beds. Its scientific name is Calliergon giganteum. They have tiny rootlets instead of roots and they have an absence of the woody stem. They are usually brown and its branches are crowded.
You may be amazed to know that this plant is the ‘’slowest growing longest-living freshwater macrophyte ever recorded’’!
Arctic Moss covers the ground and warms it up, making an ideal situation for the plants to grow.
3) Cotton Grass
It is a flowering plant and its scientific name is Eriophorum. They are herbaceous perennial plants with slender, grass-like leaves. The seed heads are covered in a fluffy mass of cotton-like fibers which are carried on the wind to aid dispersal. In cold Arctic regions, these masses of translucent fibers also serve as ‘down’ – increasing the temperature of the reproductive organs during the Arctic summer by trapping solar radiation.
4) Arctic Willow
The Arctic willow is a tiny creeping willow (family Salicaceae). It is adapted to survive in Arctic conditions, specifically tundra. The Arctic Willow is one of the main food sources for herbivores living in the arctic regions. It can grow up to 15 cm in height in Tundra. This plant is also used for medicinal purposes like relieving toothache, helping to stop bleeding, curing diarrhea, and indigestion.
5) Arctic Poppy
The Arctic poppy is a rare, endemic, perennial plant species found only in harsh climatic conditions like Arctic Region. The stem is hard and covered in black hair. They bear yellow or white flowers. They grow about 10-15cm tall during their lifetime. This plant is poisonous if ingested, but its Toxicity level is low.
6) Purple Saxifrage
It is the species of plants that are very common in the high arctic regions of the world. It is a low-growing, densely or loosely matted plant growing up to 5 cm (2.0 in) high, with somewhat woody branches of creeping or trailing habit close to the surface. The leaves are small, rounded, scale-like, opposite in four rows with ciliated margins. The flowers are solitary on short stalks, petals purple or lilac, much longer than the calyx lobes. It is one of the very first spring flowers, continuing to flower during the whole summer in localities where the snow melts later. The flowers have been picked for food in Nunavut. The petals are edible.
Eventually, we can say that it is very hard for the plants to grow in the Arctic Tundra as plants get a very sparse amount of sunlight and water throughout the year. The plants with shallow root systems survive at last. Despite all the facts, there are still 1700 species of plants that grow in the Arctic Regions of the World.
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