The variations in vegetation and climate
The mountain vegetation can be organised in three different areas which follow one another according to altitude: mountain pine forest, mountain birch forest and mountain tundra.
In the low altitude areas – vegetation is more vibrant than in the high altitude areas. The glacier buttercup (Ranunculus glacialis) is a mountain plant that grows between rocks in high altitude areas – preferably 1000 masl (meters above sea level), a very barren biotope. But there are exceptions. In Tarfala which is a high altitude alpine area in the Kebnekaise mountain range, you can find moss bell heather (Harrimanella hypnoides) on the moraine ridge close the Mt Kebnekaise glacier. Moss bell heather is usually found in much lower altitude areas of the mountains.
An essential factor for the mountain flora is the altitude and how far north the growth place is.
The mountains are a rough and exposed environment for any organic life. An essential factor for the mountain flora is the altitude and how far north the growth place is. The proximity to the ocean, or other large masses of water, has a lot of impact on the climate in the mountains as it has in other locations. Areas with bedrock particularly rich in lime are especially favourable and have a more significant richness in vegetation. The climate of the mountain areas is consistently very stable. There are no sudden changes, and the plants have been able to develop over time into a considerable variation.
The growth period in the northern part of the mountain range is quite short, in the lower altitude areas of the mountain tundra from the end of mid-June to the beginning of September. In the areas above 1000 masl, the growth period spans from the beginning of July to mid-August – for only five weeks. But it’s not just the altitude that affects the summer climate in the mountains, but the duration of the snow cover also has a high impact. When the winter is rich in snow and the spring cold – the plants get a shorter growth period. Many of the mountain plants are usually smaller in size, and it’s common that they create alternative growth patterns like bows, carpets and tussocks to protect themselves from wind and frost. They have other features like for example hirsuteness to limit evaporation and commonly a very strongly developed root system.
Here follows a few common, and less common, mountain plants: