Tundra: Plants

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11211

Although the tundra is cold, dry, and not your first choice for a garden, there are a lot of beautiful plants that live there. How do they do it without jackets and gloves? Study and draw some plants!

categories

World

subject
Geography
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion
Grade Level
Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

How do you think plants survive the cold temperatures and lack of rainfall in the tundra?

tundra flowers

Let's review what you learned in the first Related Lesson in our Tundra series, found in the right-hand sidebar.

  • You learned that the tundra is found in the northern hemisphere.
  • The tundra has a cold and dry climate.
  • There are three types of tundra: arctic tundra, Antarctic tundra, and alpine tundra. Arctic and Antarctic tundra have permafrost; alpine tundra does not.
  • Alpine tundra is strictly found in the mountains and is located on mountain tops all over the world!

The plants in the tundra have to survive harsh winter conditions with cold temperatures and small amounts of precipitation. They also have to survive through strong winds.

  • How do plants survive the tundra's climate?

Let's find out!


  • Did you know more than 1,500 plants live in the arctic tundra?

These plants include dwarf shrubs, grasses, herbs, mosses, lichens, and flowering plants. These types of plants have shallow root systems. This means the roots are just below the surface of the soil. They cannot grow deeper because of the thick permafrost found in the arctic tundra. The plants in the arctic tundra are small in size to help them resist the cold weather and heavy winds. Some of these plants continue to grow, even beneath the snow. Most of these plants only grow in the summer and die when the winter frost comes.

Below are a few plants that grow in the arctic tundra.


Antarctic tundra is too cold for most plants to grow there. Plants can be found out on the Antarctic Peninsula, where the soil isn't frozen solid. Some examples of plants that grow here include: lichens, mosses, grasses, and liverworts. These plants are small and low to the ground. This helps keep them from being exposed to the cold winds. The picture below shows lichens. Lichens usually grow on hard surfaces like boulders.


Alpine tundra is home to many interesting plants. In this type of tundra, the plants have to survive the cold temperatures, small amount of precipitation, and strong winds. Trees do not grow in the high altitudes because of the lack of oxygen. The plants in this tundra are similar to the plants in the arctic tundra.

Some examples of alpine tundra plants are flowering plants, dwarf trees, shrubs, tussock grasses, heaths, and herbs. All these plants live close to the ground. This helps them survive the cold temperatures and strong winds. Most of the plants only survive the summer and die during the winter season. Some plants survive all year round but have very weak root systems.

Wonderful! You have learned about the plants found in the tundra.

Move on to the Got It? section to learn even more about the unique and amazing plants of the tundra.

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