En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Different kinds of plants living in subarctic areas

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
174 ratings

Monday - March 10, 2008

From: Poway, CA
Region: California
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Different kinds of plants living in subarctic areas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What are the different kinds of plants live in the subarctic areas?

ANSWER:

The subarctic includes the Canadian provinces, Alaska, Scandinavia, Siberia, northern Mongolia and northern China—in other words, the high latitudes south of the Arctic Circle (66° 33' N) and north of 70°N latitude. The soils tend to be acidic and boggy. As you go nearer to the Arctic Circle, you will find the soils will be frozen tundra for a good part of the year. There the plants are small and the primary trees you find are very small willows. There is also an abundance of mosses, grasses and sedges. Here is a link to some plants you can see on the Alaska tundra. As you go south in the subarctic you will begin to find conifers (spruces—Picea mariana (black spruce) and Picea glauca (white spruce), firs—Abies lasiocarpa (subalpine fir), and larches—Larix laricina (tamarack)) and there are smaller broadleaf trees such as birches—Betula papyrifera (paper birch), poplars—Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen) and willows. The growing season is short but the daylight hours (sunlight for photosynthesis) are long so that the plants can grow rapidly. Click here to see some giant "domesticated" Alaskan plants.

One good way to see what sorts of plants grow in the subarctic region is to go to our Native Plant Database and do a Combination Search on Alaska (or one of the Canadian provinces). You can also pick what type of plant you are interested in. If you do a combination search on "Alaska" and then "Tree" under Habit you will find 43 entries and see that there are lots of conifers and small broadleaf trees—but no oaks.

Here are a few photographs of typical plants you might see in subarctic Alaska:
 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Asclepias with whitish discoloration
May 26, 2008 - I have red/scarlett milkweed planted in my yard. The leaves have a whitish discoloration on the top of some of the leaves and it is spreading. What is it? What do I do about it?
view the full question and answer

How do I plant seeds harvested from my flower bed?
February 28, 2012 - In early Spring of 2011 I planted a new raised bed 75'x4' in size, with wildflower seeds obtained from a commercial nursery in Corpus Christi. I was taken back by their cost relative to the volume o...
view the full question and answer

Light requirements for Heartleaf Skullcap from Smithville TX
June 29, 2011 - How much sun or shade does Heartleaf Skullcap need?
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in West Union IA
June 22, 2010 - Erosion control and native grasses/plants for steep, shady slope in northeast Iowa. We are building a house in northeast Iowa (near West Union in Fayette County). The road that was graded to the ho...
view the full question and answer

Companion plant for columbine in Summer
February 01, 2009 - Please suggest a companion plant for Texas columbine that will hide them when they are ragged in summer but won't interfere with their seeding out to make new plants.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center