How have plants adapted to cold environments?

For plants to survive in cold environments, they have had to adapt to extreme conditions.

Cotton grass has small seeds that can easily be dispersed by the wind to ensure its survival. The grass is low lying, which helps it reduce moisture loss by drying winds. As soon as the temperature decreases, it grows rapidly and produces seeds. It has thin leaves which help reduce water loss by transpiration. It has shallow roots to access nutrients and water close to the surface within the active layer. 

Cushion plants are low growing, compact plants which helps them retain moisture from drying winds. Also, they trap airborne dust, which provides a source of nutrients. 

Primula catchfly - a cushion plant

A cushion plant

Lichen does not require soil to grow. It is able to survive cold temperatures and can survive beneath the snow. It is slow growing, which reduces the amount of energy it requires. 

lichen on snow covered rock

Lichen in a tundra environment

Arctic poppies retain heat through their hairy stems. The Arctic poppy can also follow the sun to maximise the sunlight it receives, leading to increased photosynthesis. They also produce flowers very quickly when the snow is melting.

Hardy organisms such as mosses can cope with waterlogged conditions in the summer and can survive the winter drought. This allows them to deal with the seasonal change from winter to summer when the active layer melts. 

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