Arctic Life/Arctic Plants/Adaptations

From Arctic Bioscan Wiki

Arctic Plants have evolved unbelievable adaptations to survive in such frigid conditions. Explore the tabs below to learn more about Arctic plant adaptations!

Sun Worshippers
The flowers of the arctic poppy, Papaver radicatum, rotate to track the movement of the sun.

Although plants are relatively immobile, many arctic species, such as the arctic poppy, Papaver radicatum, and mountain avens, Dryas integrifolia, have the rare ability to orient their flowers to track the movement of the sun across the sky. By moving their petals to maximize the quantity of solar radiation that they intercept, they raise their temperature by several degrees! In their cup-shaped flowers, the seeds are kept warm so that they can mature quickly in the short summer. Flowers with this adaptation are often yellow or white, because these coloured pigments reflect heat; the central disc of the flower is darker in colour to allow for more effective radiation absorption.

Fall Colours
Arctic blueberry, Vaccinium uliginosum.

Three arctic members of the heath family have unique leaf adaptations. Towards the end of summer, when days become shorter and sunlight fades, arctic white heather, Cassiope tetragona, develops light yellowish-green leaves at the end of its branches. This modification is thought to be the plant's way of utilizing low light levels for photosynthesis. Mountain cranberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, produces fleshy, red leaves during late summer and fall to serve the same purpose. Arctic blueberry, V. uliginosum, however, saves the excess energy required to produce new leaves, and instead changes the colour of existing leaves. During early and late summer, when light levels are low, the leaf edges of arctic blueberry turn red – this alteration in pigment colour allows for the absorption of more light across a broader spectrum.