Arctic Moss Facts: Non-Vascular Flowerless Plants!

Jaba Sharma
Mar 20, 2023 By Jaba Sharma
Originally Published on Mar 20, 2023
Fact-checked by Spandana Kantam
As the name suggests, Arctic moss is only found in freezing temperatures.

Arctic moss, or Calliergon giganteum, is an incredible aquatic plant species that thrive in a harsh cold environment with low nutrient levels, little sunlight, and thick layers of snow.

Arctic moss grows at the bottom of lakes and streams, almost completely covering the riverbed. These tough plants have small leaves, non-woody stems, and no root system.

Arctic moss comes in two varieties, one of which is an aquatic plant found in and around bogs, fens, and lake bottoms in the tundra. It has a lengthy lifespan; the shoots live for seven to nine years, and the leaves live for four years.

It stores nutrients when it isn't growing so that new leaves can be produced swiftly when spring re-arrives. It grows close to the ground to avoid harsh winds and freezing cold; hence it has adapted to extremely high winds.

Because it can grow underwater, it is protected from the drying winds and cold air of the frozen tundra. They need unique adaptations to survive in extreme conditions and at low temperatures.

Uses Of Arctic Moss

Arctic moss, in general, has few uses. As it covers the ground it grows on, it warms the surface resulting in better growth of other plants. Some of it also serves as food for some animals. As this moss is frozen for several thousand years, it helps scientists study earlier life forms.

Sphagnum moss is a drinking water source. You can rip it off a tree and squeeze the water into your mouth. Because this moss is acidic, no bacteria can grow on it, making it safe to drink without boiling.

Growth Of Arctic Moss

Due to its slow growth and long lifespan (up to around seven to nine years), Arctic moss has won its place in history as the slowest growing longest-living freshwater plant.

The tundra plant adaptations allow it to survive where nature is least nurturing. Their slow growth is what keeps them alive, and it is an adaptation to their environment's cold climate and low nutrient levels.

Each spring, new leaves emerge, but in the meantime, the old shoots, which have probably been alive for many years, store nutrients in their leaves.

These plants have many leaves because the more leaves there are, the more opportunities for photosynthesis.

They can reproduce by growing shoots or by releasing spores, which must be wet to survive. Cold temperatures and low precipitation in these arctic regions make this an extremely challenging environment for life to survive because there is little water and sunlight accessible for survival.

Since decomposition occurs slowly due to the frigid temperatures and minimal precipitation, relatively little organic matter is supplied to the soil each year. This indicates that the grounds are typically thin and infertile, allowing only hardy low-lying plants like moss to survive.

Additionally, the earth is saturated when the ice melts in the summer and is frozen for a portion of the year, which is not optimal for plant growth.

Another reason for this slow-growing is that their enzymatic activity is likewise delayed due to the decreased external pressures such as sunlight. As a result, they can work with these aspects to the plant's full advantage.

Compared to other flowering plants on Earth, tundra plants can flower at lower temperatures. As is normal, the flowering period starts early in the summer, giving them time to develop and produce seeds during the short growing season. The summertime flowering season lasts roughly six to eight weeks.

The tundra biome does not require soil for growth. Several tundra plants, including lichens and mosses, can be found on rocks. More than any flowering plant in the tundra environment, mosses can maintain photosynthesis and growth under subfreezing conditions.

Ecological Benefits Of Arctic Moss

Arctic moss is shielded from the dry, chilly winds of the Arctic tundra and still receives protection from the warmth of the soil because it has established its home underwater. Additionally, it enables the plant to cling to rocks during windy seasons and absorb nutrients from shallow soils and rocks.

Many migratory animals, as well as many tundra birds, use moss to line their nests against the harsh Arctic winds. An Arctic mammal that has adapted to its surroundings is the caribou.

Caribou have split hooves, similar to cows, for their feet. They stand on each foot's middle two toes, which are covered in hooves.

Hooves may spread apart to support the greater weight without sinking into snow or damp ground since they have two hooves instead of one like in a horse. They can also function as paddles when swimming.

During the harshest parts of the season, animals like reindeer have little access to food and rely only on caribou moss. Reindeer get a lot of energy from the high amount of carbohydrates present in moss.

Caribou moss can be digested by these animals thanks to the unique microbes in their stomachs. The tardigrades and other creatures that live in these mosses adapt to the harsh conditions by drying out and going dormant. When meltwater is present, mosses absorb it like a sponge.

Scientific Facts About Arctic Moss

Calliergon giganteum serves a variety of purposes. Moss covers the ground in the polar tundra and warms it, allowing other plants to flourish there.

Migrating animals, such as birds, eat it. Scientists are learning about life on our planet thanks to some kind of polar moss that has been frozen for thousands of years.

The aquatic moss Warnstofia fluitans, abundant in northern Sweden, can quickly absorb arsenic, according to research from Stockholm University. In certain studies, the moss removed as much as 82% of the toxins in just an hour.


How does Arctic moss plant survive in the biome tundra?
Arctic moss thrives in subzero conditions and can withstand fierce winds. Moss is able to store energy for use when temperatures drop below freezing.

What is the physical description of Arctic moss?
Arctic moss is short, with no wooden stems and tiny leaves that are usually only one cell thick. Instead of roots, the moss has rhizoids (tiny rootlets).

Where does Arctic moss grow?
Arctic moss grows in the Arctic tundra in Siberia, the northern hemisphere, and other places where there is a very cold environment with strong winds.

What type of moss can grow in Arctic mild forest and desert regions?
A widespread moss species called Tortula ruralis can thrive in various climatic conditions.

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Written by Jaba Sharma

Master of Business Administration

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Jaba SharmaMaster of Business Administration

A highly skilled content writer and editor, Jaba brings over six years of experience in the field to her role. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Science from Lucknow University and a Master's degree in Business Administration with a specialization in finance from the Institute of Environment & Management, Lucknow. Jaba's meticulous approach and creative mindset naturally led her into the world of content writing. She began her career as a Website Content Writer and Backend Admin at EventTraveler Pvt. Ltd, where she gained extensive experience in creating web pages, writing, and editing content and conducting in-depth web research. 

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Fact-checked by Spandana Kantam

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Political Science and Sociology

Spandana Kantam picture

Spandana KantamBachelor of Arts specializing in Political Science and Sociology

Spandana holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Acharya Nagarjuna University. She has a passion for writing and enjoys reading crime and thriller novels while listening to RnB music in her free time.

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