Lie Down: Hug the Ground!

As plants grow on the tundra they often spread out along the ground instead of growing up into the air. Like dwarfism, this limits their exposure to the harsh wind. Plus, the air near the ground can be much warmer on sunny days as the ground soaks up the sun's rays.

Don't believe me? Lie down on the tundra and see how much warmer you feel. (Be gentle- remember that plants up here are very delicate!)

On the lower edges of the tundra you will see bushy trees growing close to the ground. Look at their trunks- they look like the wind has blown them over. Why would trees grow sideways here instead of up? These clumps of dwarf trees are called krummholz (German for "crooked wood".)

 

Here a Sibbaldia plant almost looks like it is creeping over the ground and rocks. The stems on this plant grow outwards instead of upward.

 

The Juniper in the foreground is over 20 feet across but less than a foot tall. The same species of juniper grows into a small tree at lower elevations.

Next: Mound Up!