What Vegetation Grows In The Polar Zones?

To determine which vegetation grows in the polar zones, it is necessary to know that reference is being made to the plants of the Arctic and Antarctic. Such is the case of trees, shrubs, ferns and herbs that, incidentally, have stems, roots and, of course, leaves. Additionally, biologically speaking simpler plants, such as moss, also grow in these areas.

Besides those mentioned, hornworts and livetworts are also part of the polar vegetation. Algae and fungi are other forms of vegetation found there.

This, despite the fact that some scientists consider that the latter two are not part of the plant kingdom, which is highly debatable.

To understand what vegetation grows in the polar zones, it is necessary to understand that there is an infinite amount (and variety) of algae, as is the case with many microscopic photosynthetic organisms, that is, that carry out the well-known photosynthesis, which can be unicellular (of single cell) or multicellular.

Let’s look specifically at what is related to algae and polar fungi

In the polar areas it is possible to find seaweed which, in turn, can be of different colors such as green (the most common and in many shades), brown and red.

Antarctic krill feeding on ice algae. Source: Photo from Kils & Marschall 1995 CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fungi are very common which, it is fair to say, do not generate their own energy through photosynthesis but, rather, produce it by ingesting the food that surrounds them.

Regarding fungi, it should be noted that there are many species that are endemic to the polar regions but that, at the same time, are distributed throughout the planet.

However, its natural ecological niches are precisely the poles. Regarding the so-called “permafrost” of the polar areas, it is important to note that it covers more than 25% of the planet’s surface.

Antarctic grass (Deschampsia antarctica)

The species of fungi that predominates in the Arctic and Antarctic is the Penicillium crustosum , which is a filamentous fungus that inhabits the bodies of water of the polar snows, in the water of the surrounding seas and in the ice that underlies them. these waters.

In addition, they are found in glacial melt waters and sub-glacial ice.

Lichens and other species of the plant kingdom that inhabit the poles

To know in more detail what vegetation grows in the polar zones, it is necessary to refer to lichens, about which some scientists doubt that they belong to the plant kingdom.

However, the prevailing opinion remains that they are plants. Now, lichens consist of a kind of association or, if you prefer, a fusion of an alga and a fungus.

Pasque flower (Anemone pulsatilla)

While the fungus provides the necessary water and minerals, the alga provides the energy for photosynthesis of lichens.

Among the arctic plants, we have the dwarf shrubs (such as the Arctic willow), some flowering plants (Flor de pasque), certain leathery leaves such as the so-called “Bearberry” and a very particular plant such as the Purple Saxifrage, which blooms in the shape of star.

 Among the Antarctic plants, there are the Antarctic pearl and the Antarctic hair grass. This, then, is the vegetation that grows in the polar zones.


  1. Fries-Gaither, Jessica (No year). Plants of the Arctic and Antarctic. Recovered from beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu.
  2. Gunde-Cimerman, Nina and Sonjak, Silvia (2012). Chapter 4: Fungi in Polar Environments Monograph. Recovered from asmscience.org.
  3. Polar Discovery (2006). Compare the Poles. Woods hole Oceanographic Institution. Recovered from polardiscovery.whoi.edu.
  4. Antarkos civil association (No year). FLORA AND FAUNA of Antarctica. Recovered from antarkos.org.uy.
  5. Alcaraz Ariza, Francisco (2011). Geobotany, topic 28: Boreal forests and tundra. Recovered from um.es.

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