Shrubs in the Tundra

Save

Shaped by wind, ice and snow, the tundra is a vast and seemingly barren region circumnavigating the northernmost edges of North America, Greenland and Eurasia. It is home to a variety of vegetation, including many species of shrub. Characterized by their low growth habit, the native shrubs of the Arctic thrive despite the extreme conditions under which they grow, providing a valuable food source for many native animal species.

Dwarf Birch

  • Dwarf birch (Betula nana) is found throughout the Arctic tundra region of North America, Greenland and northwestern Eurasia. It is a small deciduous shrub reaching a maximum height of four feet with a low, spreading growth habit. Striking in appearance, dwarf birch bears an abundance of small lobed leaves along its coppery-brown branches. The leaves turn crimson in autumn. Its range is restricted to the southernmost edge of the tundra near the taiga zone, an area of small, stunted trees.

Northern Labrador Tea

  • Among the most common and widespread shrubs in the tundra, northern Labrador tea (Rhododendron tomentosum) thrives in the peaty, acidic soil and bitter cold that is characteristic of the region. It is an extremely low-growing evergreen shrub seldom exceeding 1.5 feet in height, with a spreading habit. In midsummer, northern Labrador tea bears a profusion of brushy white flower clusters that are attractive to bees. The thick, tongue-shaped leaves are nearly black in appearance with a fine down of white hairs across the surface.

Arctic White Heather

  • Reaching three to 10 inches in height, Arctic white heather (Cassiope tetragona) is a dwarf flowering shrub common across the North American tundra. It also occurs in scattered thickets within the Scandinavian tundra of Lapland. Areas of slightly acidic, well-draining soil are particularly hospitable to Arctic white heather, and it frequently dominates rocky slopes near the southern edge of the tundra. It is unusual in appearance, bearing small, scalelike leaves along reddish-brown branches. During the summer months, it produces numerous white, bell-shaped flowers with a nodding posture.

Arctic Willow

  • Arctic willow (Salix arctica) occurs in tundra areas around the world, from North America to Eurasia. It is a diminutive species seldom exceeding six inches in height throughout most of its range. Not readily identifiable as a willow species, Arctic willow bears shiny green, rounded leaves covered in fine hairs. It blooms from late spring into summer, producing pink catkins on female plants and brown catkins on males.

White Dryad

  • One of the most unusual and striking shrubs of the tundra is white dryad (Dryas octopetala). Named for its flowers, white dryad bears a crop of proportionally large, poppy-like white flowers in late spring. It is a low-growing evergreen shrub with tough, woody stems and a spreading growth habit. Once established, it quickly colonizes large areas, choking out other vegetation. It reaches a mere three inches in height but can spread to cover an area larger than 10 square feet.

References

  • "Plants of the Alpine Tundra"; Nic Marinos; 1991
  • "Land Above the Trees: A Guide to American Alpine Tundra"; Ann Zwinger; 1989
  • "Tundras: Vegetation, Wildlife and Climate Trends"; Beltran Gutierrez; 2009
  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

You May Also Like

  • Tundra Facts

    The tundra is a biome (ecologically similar region often referred to as an ecosystem) which consists of the land masses at the...

  • Information on Dappled Willow Shrubs

    Dappled willow shrubs (Salix integra) bring more than gracefully weeping branches to the garden. Picture an explosion of salmon-pink spring foliage that...

  • How Do Plants & Animals Survive in the Arctic Tundra?

    The Arctic tundra ecosystem, found in the far north polar area of the world, is characterized by cold temperatures, frozen soil called...

  • What Are the Types of Plants in the Tundra Biome?

    There are about 1,700 plants species in the tundra biome. Many of these are species from warmer, more hospitable climates that have...

  • What Are Some Flowers Found in the Taiga?

    The taiga, or boreal forest, covers more land than any other biome on Earth. It stretches across much of Canada and Russia,...

  • Tundra Characteristics

    The tundra region derives its name from the Finnish word "tunturia," which means treeless plain. The tundra is characterized by a harsh,...

  • Tundra Trees

    The tundra is a biome that is characterized by long, cold winters, little precipitation and strong winds. Typically, the tundra is considered...

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Make a Vertical Clay Pot Garden

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!