Arctic Islands

Arctic flora

The Arctic islands support a beautiful and delicate flora. As the winter snows melt, many plants burst into flower, brightening up the otherwise bare tundra. Flowering plants are supplemented by ground-hugging shrubs, including relatives of the well known birch and willow. These are the plants that once grew in more southern latitudes of Europe, Asia and North America during the ice ages, regions in which a few relic Arctic plants still survive.

Arctic flora
Snow melting gives rise to marshy ground, dominated by mosses and small shrubs. Wetland on Ymer Ř in East Greenland.
Arctic flora
Well-drained, but moist tundra has rich vegetation. Yellow mountain avens (Dryas octapetala), purple moss campion (Silene acaulis), dwarf shrubby polar willow (Salix polaris); Spitsbergen.
Arctic flora
Yellow mountain saxifrage (Saxifraga aizoides), East Greenland.
Arctic flora
Purple saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) is one of the earliest flowering plants to emerge from the snow. Near Austre Lovénbreen in NW Spitsbergen.
Arctic flora
Moss campion (Silene acaulis) graces drier parts of the tundra, Ny-Ĺlesund area, NW Spitsbergen.
Arctic flora
Arctic cinquefoil (Potentilla hyparctica), East Greenland
Arctic flora
Broad-leaved willow herb (Chamaenerion latifolium), East Greenland.
Arctic flora
Svalbard poppy (Papaver dahlianum), Svalbard.
Arctic flora
Hairy lousewort (Pedicularis hirsuta), Axel Heiberg Island.
Arctic flora
Nodding lychnis (Melandrium apetalum), Svalbard.
Arctic flora
Arctic wintergreen (Pyrola sp.), Axel Heiberg Island
Arctic flora
Fragile fern (Cystopteris fragilis), East Greenland.
Arctic flora
Ground-hugging dwarf birch (Betula nana) in late summer colour, East Greenland
Arctic flora
Arctic willow (Salix glauca), East Greenland
Arctic flora
Moss
Arctic flora
Reindeer moss (Cladonia rangiferina), East Greenland.
Arctic flora
Lichen growing on bedrock, East Greenland
   
Photos: Michael Hambrey