Plants face a challenging and harsh environment in the Arctic tundra, a completely frozen and dry arctic surface, covered with permafrost, that is not suitable for plant growth. Below freezing temperatures, poor soil quality, and low nutrient levels mean only a few resilient plant species can survive.

Arctic landscape
credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images


Arctic plant species that grow on the flat tundra surface of the North Pole include cotton grass, sedge, and dwarf heath. North Pole alpine plants growing on an incline or mountainous terrain include mat-making and cushion plants, or cluster-like communities of plants that grow together to protect each other from the elements.

Root Biomass

The outdoor environment of the North Pole is not a habitable place, so most of the biomass, or mass of a plant's vegetation, is concentrated in its roots.

Mosses and Lichens

Mosses and lichens are the most abundant form of plant life in the North Pole, and grow primarily on the underside of rocks that are protected from the elements.

Dark Pigment

Many North Pole tundra plants, like Dark Red Many Plants, have very dark pigments on their leaves. The high albedo, or ability to absorb sunlight, allows for photosynthesis to occur at lower temperatures.


North Pole weather consists of high winds, and cold temperatures, terrible conditions for flowering. Therefore, most plant reproduction takes place through the division of roots under the surface.