Producers in the Arctic Tundra (Plants in the Arctic Tundra)
If you want to learn about the arctic tundra's producers, this is the right place. Well, first of all, what are producers? Producers are plants. These plants generate energy. When a producer gets eaten, the energy goes to the animal that ate it. Herbivores eat producers. (Herbivores are also known as primary consumers.) Then, secondary consumers (carnivores) eat the primary consumers. Sometimes, there are tertiary consumers that eat secondary consumers. Apex predators are the final link in the food chain. They eat secondary and tertiary consumers. Whenever an animal eats another animal or plant, the animal or plant gives its energy to the animal that ate it. But when apex predators die, decomposers break down the energy from apex and it gets in the soil. The energy from the apex (now in the soil, thanks to the decomposer that broke the apex down) then travels to a producer, therefore restarting the food chain. It never ends!
First of all, I am going to talk about aquatic arctic moss (Calliergon giganteum). This plant lives in arctic tundra lake beds. This aquatic plant has tiny roots called rhizoids. They never have root stems. They also have lots of really tiny leafs. Although a calliergon giganteum grows only 1 cm. a year, it has a very long life span. (For a plant, which is 7-9 years.) They reproduce by sending spores out in the air. It is eaten by migrating birds. The tiny rootlets it has is an adaption to the permafrost, because longer roots would start hitting the permafrost a few inches beneath the soil of the arctic tundra.
The next producer I will be talking about are lichens in the arctic tundra. Lichens can survive in an astounding -460 degrees Fahrenheit. Lichens are really sensitive to pollution, and scientists use lichens to test air quality. Lichens are not only one organism, but two. Each organism wouldn't survive without the other. Both of these organisms combined create lichen. The two organisms are fungi and algae. Caribou depend mainly on lichens, which without lichens you wouldn't see too many caribou out in today's world. A really famous type of lichen is species are xanthoria. Some lichen are really thick and really hard to spot. This is an adaption so it won't get eaten by caribou.
Next I will talk about arctic willow. Arctic Willow (salix arctica) live in dry and open places. The optimum range of the arctic willow is from -70 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Arctic willow is usually 15-20 cm. tall. To adapt to the permafrost, it has shallow roots. The leaves have adapted to the cold by growing tiny hairs. Arctic hares usually eat arctic willow.
The next plant I will be talking about is the tufted saxifrage. The tufted saxifrage can grow from 3-15 cm. high. The leaves are very hairy. The hair is from 5-10 mm. tall. 2 to 10 flowers bloom on each stem. They look like a bell when they are opening and are like a star when fully bloomed. This flower has small fruit with tons of seeds. The tufted saxifrage's well adapted root system stores carbohydrates for colder times in the arctic tundra. The tufted saxifrage grows on rocky slopes and crevices. Mostly birds eat the tufted saxifrage.
The next producer on my list is the bearberry. The bearberry's stem rises 2-8 inches off the ground. This producer has silky hairs and thick bark. The stem has leathery oval shaped leafs. The flower petals are pink or white. They only bloom between March and June. The bearberry gets its name from having red berries the bears love to eat and feast upon. The leathery leaves are an adaption from living in the arctic tundra. The hairs on the leaves help keep it warm.(This is an adaption.) Bearberry can help in a lot of ways. The fruit can be cooked with other foods or just by itself, the tea can be made into tea which helps cure cough and slow menstrual bleeding, a tea from the stem can help prevent miscarriage (for a women's baby), help speed up recovery from giving birth to a new child, the leaves could be added to tobacco or be a substitute for tobacco, and a tea from the leaves helps kidney and bladder problems. Boy, this bearberry sure is useful.
Next up is the pasque flower. The pasque flower has multiple stems that elevate to about 6-8 inches off the ground. There are about 5-8 petals on a pasque flower. The color range is from dark lavender to closely white. The leaf is covered in silky hairs just like the rest of the plant.This is an adaption to keep it warm. This flower is also the state flower of South Dakota. The pasque flower is commonly used to treat eye diseases. Nothing eats the pasque flower.
Next up to inform you about is caribou moss. Caribou moss looks like a spongy, green, foamy mass. It usually grows to be about 4 inches high. The stems are always hollow. Althogh it is called caribou moss it is actually a major species of lichen. The symbotic relationship of the fungi and algae are that the fungi protect the algae while the algae makes food.(out of chlorphyll). This major lichen can live huge periods without water and with dormancy.(This is an adaption.) Lichen pass air easily through their bodies, including air pollution. This is causing reindeer and caribou to die. (eating the lichen with the air pollution isn't good for the caribou or reindeer.) Another thing is that if we eat caribou with unhealthy pollution in their bodies, the pollution from eating them will go into us.
After informing you about the caribou moss, I will tell you about the diamond leaf willow. The twigs on a willow are really soft. This way the willow is more flexible. This is an adaption to holding heavy snow. Some willows can grow to be a few inches while others can be 30 feet tall. Some willows have bunches of flowers that are usually white. The flowers are usually about 1 inch wide. When they all bloom, they look like a white fuzzy carpet. A type of diamond leaf willow ,called sura, is 10 times richer than vitamin c. It is also rich in calcium and vitamin a. Willows easily light on fire. Some willow branches can be turned into gunpowder. Nothing eats the diamond leaf willow.
Next I will talk about the 4-5 foot growing labrador tea. The leaves are 1-2 inches. The flowers bloom in June and July. The leaves were brewed as tea by natives. The tea has high amounts of vitamin c. The leaves were kept in clothes to keep moths away. The roots were used in grains to keep mice away. You could also use it for varieties of skin problems. Also, a syrup was made from the tea to heal coughs. These flowers are in the lower areas in the arctic tundra. Only bees are attracted to this flower because it is said to be a little poisonous. The poison means that whatever animal eats the labrador tea, it will get poisoned and it will die. This is an adaption.
Thank you for reading the producers page. I hope this page of the website really helped you. Also, make sure to enjoy the homepage, primary consumers, secondary consumers, and apexes and decomposers pages in this website. Have fun learning about the arctic tundra!
This producers section of the website was made by Saurabh Totey. Most of my resources came from blueplanetbiomes.org. Other small fragments came from websites on Google. This information was received mostly around 12/20/2011. Again, thank you for reading this part of the website. I hope you enjoyed it. Make sure to visit the other parts of this website.