The plants and flowers of Nunavut are some of the most beautiful and tenacious residents in the territory!

Plant life is pretty precarious in Nunavut. Winters are long and summers are short. The average temperature is well below freezing for much of the year. The entire Canadian Arctic Archipelago receives such little precipitation annually it qualifies as a desert. The shallow soils of Nunavut are mostly acidic and very low in nitrogen. Plants must eke out a tough existence in a few meagre inches of earth, their roots confined by impenetrable layers of bedrock or permafrost that lie just below the surface.

Nunavut plants and flowers are remarkable for enduring these severe conditions, largely through a series of adaptations. Most tundra plants are perennials, which helps ensure their long-term survival. While even the strongest plants in temperate southern latitudes will succumb to freak frosts and blizzards, the beautiful flora species of Nunavut can be completely frozen one minute and thawed out the next as if nothing had happened!

Plants here also protect themselves against the elements by crowding together and creating small microclimates where the temperature is significantly higher than the surrounding air. This promotes photosynthesis and metabolism that would otherwise be impossible. That is why Nunavut plant life nestles into sheltered rock crevices and hugs the ground. What soil does exist upon the tundra barrens is rarely visible, because it is usually covered by a dense layer of mosses and lichens through which other herbaceous and shrubby plants can grow.

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