Endangered Plants in the Tundra

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Tundra is a geographical term for an area where plant and animal development is hindered by extreme low temperatures, stunted growing seasons and a lack of nutrient availability. There are two main areas of tundra on the earth: the Arctic and Alpine tundras. The Arctic tundra is near to the North Pole, where the average temperature varies from -30 Fahrenheit to 54 Fahrenheit. The Alpine tundra refers to high altitudes in mountainous regions throughout the world.

Aleutian Wormwood

Artemisia Aleutica, commonly known as the Aleutian Wormwood, is an endangered plant in Alaska. When spotted, it is usually found to be growing near the Aleutian Islands. Although it cannot be seen very often in flower, it is a perennial plant with small, clustered flower heads. The flower heads produce small blossoms and leaves, at the end of which sprout sand-colored hair.

Bering Sea Douglasia

Bering Sea douglasia (Douglasia beringensis) is an endangered plant whose habitat is thought to be throughout several Arctic regions, though the plant is most often is spotted in western Alaska. It can also be found on mountain summits between 1,000 and 1,800 feet in elevation. The plant flowers at the end of June, producing small pink flowers that eventually turn white. After flowering, the Bering Sea douglasia’s stems elongate and can reach a height of 2.5 inches.

Sessile-Leaved Scurvy-Grass

Cochlearia sessilifolia, also known as the Sessile-leaved scurvy-grass, is an endangered, annual plant that has been found near the southern coast of Alaska, in addition to other mountainous tundra regions. It is a short plant that typically grows to 3 centimeters, though it reaches no higher than 7 centimeters. The Sessile-leaved scurvy-grass produces white flowers in the beginning of the summer. A blooming of fruits follows the period of flowering. The fruits are unusually large for such a small plant. As of 2010, the plant was spotted in several areas of the Alaskan Kodiak region. It has also been found growing in tide waters off of the Alaskan coasts.

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About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.

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