Seek Shelter: Out of the Wind!

Some plants can only survive on the alpine tundra if they find a place to grow out of the wind.

Sometimes a physical feature like a boulder provides an ideal windbreak, and sometimes other plants provide shelter from the wind.

When you visit the tundra, see how much warmer you feel if you can get behind a boulder or even a friend to get out of the wind!

This is the state flower of Colorado- can you name it? It is the Colorado Blue Columbine. When it grows on the tundra it needs shelter from the wind like the boulders seen here are providing. Sometimes they grow behind dwarf krummholz trees to get out of the wind.

 

Speaking of krummholz, look at the interesting pattern of these dwarf spruce and fir trees. Each wave of trees relies on the trees upwind to shelter them. So how do the trees on the leading edge survive? Often they don't! These krummholz waves may slowly move across the land as trees on the leading edge die and new trees grow on the trailing edge of each wave.

Next: Perennials!