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20 Types of Tundra Plants Apart of This Biome

The term “tundra” refers to a specific area dominated by cold temperatures and high altitudes. The tundra biome is one of the world’s harshest, but not so harsh that it can’t sustain plant life. More than 1,700 different plant and animal species are found in the tundra.

The tundra has only approximately 10 days’ worth of growth time, though the climate thrives with life. It is not ideal for humans, but it is perfect for the creatures that call it their natural habitat.

Conditions in the tundra are unlike anywhere else in the world. Temperatures lower into the extremes, and might plummet to as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

List of fascinating Tundra Plants

1. Alpine Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis alpestris)

Alpine Forget Me Not

The Alpine Forget-Me-Not is a popular ornamental plant throughout the United States today, but it is native to the Alpine tundra. It is the state flower of Alaska.

They are seen in different parts of the world because of their ability to adapt to other biomes. There are 71 different types of Alpine forget-me-not.

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2. Alpine Foxtail (Alopecurus magellanicus)

Foxtail

The Alpine Foxtail sounds like a variety of flowers, but it is a type of alpine tundra grass. Because its seeds weigh down the tips, this plant is known as the foxtail. 

Wild foxtail exists all over the world, but this particular type grows best in harsh environments. Outside the alpine tundra, the common foxtail is considered an undesirable garden plant.

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3. Arctic Moss (Calliergon giganteum)

Arctic Moss

Moss is a type of plant species that thrives in the Arctic tundra. A large chunk of tundra plants is different types of moss. Arctic moss grows in large clusters also known as giant spearmoss.

It has adapted to grow in the Arctic tundra. While they still require sunlight, they do not need as much compared to other moss. 

Arctic moss also requires very little soil to grow. It attaches itself to water rather than soil. 

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4. Arctic Willow (Salix arctica)

Closeup of Arctic Willow

The Arctic willow is a type of willow tree found in the tundra biome. They have adapted to survive extremely cold temperatures to make it through the worst of the tundra’s harsh climates.

Native North American Arctic willows can grow between 10 to 20 feet in length. Its shallow roots help to protect it from freezing temperatures. They also act as a natural pesticide against tundra insects.

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5. Bearberry (Arcostaphylos spp)

Bearberry

Bearberry describes three different berry species that have adapted to grow in the tundra under lower temperatures. The common bearberry grows well under rough tundra conditions and can adapt to growing outside effortlessly.

Common bearberry is recommended as a natural remedy for urinary tract infections. Its extract is also popular in cosmetics. The average bearberry plant grows between 6 to 12 inches.

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6. Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Closeup of White blossoms of bunchberry

Bunchberry plants are native to Asia and North America, where they grow well in colder tundra conditions. They are also found in other world biomes.

They are also called Canadian dwarf cornel, creeping dogwood, and crackerberry. Bunchberry dogwood plants are bushy and close to the ground. It grows no more than 8 to 10 inches high.

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7. Moss Campion (Silene acaulis)

Moss Campion

Moss campion is a pink-colored flower native to Eurasia and North America. Its name is based on its growth pattern that forms a distinct mat, unlike various moss types.

It is well-adapted to growing in a colder biome, with a low-growing shape that protects the plant in the tundra’s harsh conditions. It is not edible, but its presence helps to support exceptional tundra wildlife.

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8. Caribou/Reindeer Moss (Cladonia rangiferina)

Reindeer Moss

Caribou moss is one of the many types of moss that you’ll find in the biomes. It grows well under the tundra’s cold blanket but is also adaptable everywhere.

It’s also known as Reindeer Moss because reindeer in tundra landscapes have been flocking to Caribou Moss for centuries. Reindeer moss grows in different colors and is a common ornamental addition to gardens.

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9. Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus)

Cloudberry

Cloudberry occurs naturally in the tundra biome, known as a flavorful and edible berry that could match a raspberry. They are creeping bushes close to the ground for plant protection.

It’s a versatile berry type, though not everyone can say they’ve tasted one. Cloudberry plants are also called salmonberries, bakeberries, or baked apple berries.

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10. Cottongrass (Eriophorum callitrix)

Cottongrass

Cottongrass is a plant that occurs throughout the world’s tundra and subarctic biomes. It flourishes under harsh conditions found in peat bogs far outside the tundra.

Its name comes from its “fluffy” seed pods. Cotton grass is used industrially to make wicks and paper. Technically, it is not a type of cotton, but a low-maintenance ornamental grass.

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11. Diamond Leaf Willow (Salix planifolia)

Closeup of Diamond Leaf Willow
Image by Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USACC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Diamond Leaf Willow is a fascinating shrub that grows best in tundra climate, though it grows in small pockets of the United States. It is native to the North American tundra, where it is called Sura.

Diamond Willows, despite their name, grow only to a height of 10 feet. Like most plants in the biome, they remain close to the ground to protect them throughout their growth phase.

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12. Eightpetal Mountain-Avens (Dryas octopetala)

Eightpetal Mountain-Avens

The Eightpetal Mountain Avens is a type of flowering rose native to the tundra, which is also called the white dryad. Its name comes from its flower’s shape with eight petals.

The Eightpetal mountain avens is also the national flower of Iceland. It is used to make herbal tea, like most roses.

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13. Labrador Tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum)

Labrador Tea

Labrador tea flower is native to the tundra of New Hampshire, though it can be found almost all over the world due to its popularity. The term describes three different flowers, all types of the same species.

It grows happily in the tundra biome, where it stays close to the ground to protect itself from strong winds. It is used to make herbal tea, though it should be used with extreme care. It contains ledol, which can cause cramps and paralysis.

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14. Lingonberry (Vaccinum vitis-idaea)

Lingonberry

The Lingonberry is native to the tundra biomes in the Northern Hemisphere and found in nature throughout most of the world’s northern stretch. It is similar to cranberries in look, size, and taste, though it has adapted to survive extreme cold and wind over time.

Lingonberry is known by many names, including cowberry and mountain cranberry. It is popular, and you can find hundreds of recipes for lingonberries.

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15. Northern Redcurrent (Ribes triste)

Close up of Ribes triste

The Northern Redcurrant is native to the world’s most northern biomes and is the perfect plant to survive the extreme cold of the tundra ecology. They grow close to the ground like most other tundra plants and produce edible berries, unlike the regular currant berry.

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16. Snow Gentian (Gentiana nivalis)

Snow Gentian Plant

The Snow Gentian is a type of flowering plant that grows best in a cold climate. Gentian sage is edible with anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting effects. More research says that Gentian might even help support the body’s most important organs.

Snow Gentian survives the cold because it stays closer to the ground. There are different Gentian types, but Snow Gentian is unique.

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17. Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla rununculales)

Pasque Flower

The Pasque flower belongs to the buttercup family, but it is one of the few that grows happily in cold winters. They are found in different variations, though some of them can be harmful to humans and animals

While Pasque flowers are great to look at, they should not find their way into your tea. It is one of the first flowers to bloom in the tundra’s spring, with the name being a literal translation of the word Passover.

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18. Polar Grass (Arctagrosis latifolia)

Closeup of Polar Grass (Arctagrosis latifolia)

Polar grass is one of the very few grass types that you might find in the tundra biome, and it has adapted to grow in extreme climates. Polar grasses are like polar bears.

It’s one of the only types of grass that grows happily in the tundra. However, its current conservation status is sensitive.

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19. Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia)

Closeup of Purple Mountain Saxifrage

Purple Mountain Saxifrage is a vibrant purple flower native to the world’s Arctic and tundra biomes. It prefers to grow at high altitudes found outside the tundra in many mountainous areas.

Purple saxifrage is the most common name for it. It is an edible plant for humans, though it also makes up the diet of some tundra animals like Arctic hares.

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20. Tundra Rose (Potentilla fruticosa)

Closeup of Potentilla fruticosa

Tundra roses flowering plants grow best in tundra conditions and aren’t seen outside of the extreme cold that often. They are bright yellow when they flower.

They are members of the rose family that do well in the tundra. Tundra rose survives the tundra because of their root system, and their closeness to the ground.

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