It is very hard for plants to grow in the Polar Regions. Temperatures are extreme, the growing season is short and the ground seems to be barren. Even in the short summer it is cold and windy and there are just a few months of sunshine but flowers bloom from June to August. Different types of plants have adapted to the Polar environment.
How are plants able to grow in the Arctic?
First of all in the short summer season the sun shine 24 hours a day providing to the flowers long hours of sunlight to produce flowers quickly in the short growing season. Plants start to grow immediately after the snow has melted, in some cases even before it has melted.
Many species survive because propagate in more than one way. In addition to seed production very many species propagate vegetatively by means of bulbils, underground runners and viviparous flower.
Most of the plants are small, grow close together and close to the ground, this protects them from the cold temperatures and the strong winds.
Some flowering plants have fuzzy coverings on the stems, leaves and buds to provide protection from the wind. Some have woolly seed covers.
Some plants have cup-shaped flowers that face up to the sun, so the sun’s rays are directed towards the centre of the flower. These plants stay warmer than the air around them.
Others are dark colored so the plants can absorb more solar heat.
Small leaves help the plants retain moisture and because of the short growing season, most tundra plants are perennials, they do not die in the winter.
Some plants, like lichens, can survive on bare rock and moss can grow in wet places or on bare rock.
The only two woody plants growing in the Arctic are the Arctic Willow (Salix Arctica) and the Dwarf Birch (Betula Nana), they both grow few millimeters each year.
Common in the tundra are many beautiful small flowers like the Saxifrage, the Arctic Poppy, the Chickweed, the Lychnis, the Buttercup, the Sandwort, the Whitlow-grass, the Cinquefoil, the Cottongrass, etc.