Various Tundra Plants That Can Be Found in Tundra Region

Tundra region is the name given to the coldest area of the world where the average temperature is below freezing point throughout the year and even lower at night. This region is located in North America and consists of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, northern Siberia and northern Scandinavia. It is the northernmost region of the earth and the landmass is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean.

Only two months out of every year would be called a growth season in the tundra. The tundra habitat is thriving with an unexpected array of plant life despite the nearly year-round frigid temperatures. The common perennial plants that you can find on the tundra are listed here, along with a brief description of each one.

Aconogonon caeruleus (Blue Spruce)

RayMiller, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The blue spruce is native to North America where they can be found in low-lying plains near lakes and rivers. Blue spruces have long thin branches that are narrow at the base and taper towards the top. These trees have been known to reach heights up to 40 feet tall and can live up to 300 years. In addition to being beautiful, these trees are incredibly useful. They produce copious amounts of pollen which makes them great for attracting pollinators and their seed pods are good for making twine. Blue spruces are not only able to survive harsh conditions, but thrive in them. In fact, this tree is often planted around human settlements to help stabilize and prevent erosion.

Chamaedaphne calyculata – Silver Birch

Jim Champion / Silver birch tree on Holm Hill, New Forest

This species of birch grows in Canada and Alaska. Its dark green foliage turns red in the fall and the white bark of young trees shows yellowish tones. The silver birches are very adaptable and can withstand temperatures down to –40 degrees Fahrenheit. They are also known to grow well in saline soils.

Pinus contorta – Lodgepole Pine

Jason Hollinger, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This pine species is found throughout the Rocky Mountains and can tolerate cold winters while growing in high elevations. Lodgespole pines are best known for producing turpentine and resin, but they also make excellent lumber. The trees’ needles are used for making paper and the wood is used for construction.

Juniperus communis subsp. virens – Trailing Juniper

Lazaregagnidze, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trailing junipers are found in western Europe and Asia, including parts of China, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, and Siberia. They are some of the oldest types of conifers, having first appeared during the late Paleozoic Era roughly 450 million years ago. Trailing junipers can be distinguished by their needleless stems, which lie flat against the ground. Their cones are small, rounded, and cone shaped. Trailing juniper is an effective deciduous shrub, which means that it sheds its needles each year.

Corylus maxima – Common Hazelnut Tree

Hazelnuts belong to the genus Corylus where they are commonly referred to as hazelnuts, cornel nuts, or filberts. Of the three different varieties of hazelnuts, Corylus maxima produces the largest sized fruits. This variety of hazelnut is native to central Europe and northern Africa. The fruit of C. maxima can be eaten fresh, dried, boiled, roasted, or even fermented. The nuts themselves are rich in protein and fat, providing a complete meal for animals.

Pseudotsuga menziesii – Douglas Fir

Luis Apiolaza, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Douglas fir is native to the Pacific Northwest and western coast of North America. Today, the Douglas firs are widespread across much of the United States and Canada. Like many other coniferous trees, Douglas firs are evergreen. The leaves are alternate and oval shaped. The cones of Douglas fir are small, round, and brown colored. This tree is extremely useful for timber production, firewood, and pulp.

Larix laricina – European Larch

Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

European larch is native to Eurasia and North America. These deciduous trees are found in regions that experience harsh winters. Aspen, spruce, and Scotch pine are related genera of deciduous trees that can be found in similar environments.

Betula uliginosa – Tundra Birch

Henk Monster, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The tundra birch tree can be found here in the north. Also known as arctic white birch, it is one of the best trees that can easily be grown in the tundra region. It is considered to be of high value due to its medicinal qualities. Its bark is rich in vitamin C and helps to prevent scurvy. It is also used for making paper and lumber. Other uses include food and oil production.

Lilium cernuum – Northern White Lily

Another of the tundra region’s native species is the northern white lily. Known for its beautiful flowers, the lilies have been used since ancient times and are still used today by people around the world for their beauty. There are different types of flower colors including red, yellow, orange, pink, blue, purple, white, and many others. They are widely cultivated in temperate regions worldwide.

Allium angulosum – Siberian Tulip Tree

Magnus Manske, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Known as the “Siberian onion”, this bulbous shrub can be found in the tundra fields. It is mainly grown for its edible bulbs. These bulbs taste very much like onions and are quite popular in some Asian countries.

Salix herbacea – Tundra Dwarf Willow

Robert Flogaus-Faust, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also called the dwarf willow, these small shrubs can be found in the cold climates of the tundra regions. They produce fragrant flowers that bloom in the springtime. In addition to being used for ornamental purposes, they are also able to be used to make baskets.

Rosa sibirica – Tundra Evergreen Rose

This is one of the rarest roses that can be found in the north and grows in clumps. It can live up to 20 years and produces a variety of colors including white, pink, crimson, salmon, and dark violet. Another unique feature about this rose is its fragrance. It is said to smell similar to violets.

Vicia articulata – Tundra Vetch

Found in the tundra regions, the vetches are useful for grazing animals and can be eaten directly without any preparation. When cooked, the foliage tastes just like spinach and can be prepared like pasta.


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