Plants growing in the interior of Iceland
In Iceland, tundra is largely confined to the interior that has
very short summers as well as extensive sands interspersed with stretches of
wetlands along rivers. The barrens in the central
highlands of Iceland have very sparse vegetation. The species growing there are
well adapted to the short summer. The plants need to tolerate drifting sand and
extreme soil conditions. Some of the species form dense cushions. Among them are
Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) and Tufted Saxifrage (Saxifraga
caespitosa), while Thrift (Armeria maritima) forms a smaller rosette.
Moss Campion forms a dense cushion with small but fragrant pink flowers. When
the flowers are absent the bright green leaves in the cushion are more
pronounced. Tufted Saxifrage carries white flowers. This species is widespread
in Iceland. Thrift carries a rosette of fleshy leaves.
Grasses, rushes and sedges grow as stoloniferous or tussock-forming species
on the tundra sand. These species depend on vegetative growth for many years but
also reproduce sexually. Facilitation may occur when aggregations of some
species, for example, Moss Campion, form cushions that provide shelter or
otherwise suitable conditions for the establishment of other plant species.
Plants of the barrens growing as perennial rosettes, cushions and tussocks may
reproduce by seed and disperse into new sites in the vast sands of the interior.
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