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Alpine mountainous tundra of the Khibiny

Alpine tundra occupy a large mountain territory, covering more than a half of the Khibiny massif. Tundra zone starts at a height of 500 meters above the sea level. The width of a birch strip does not exceed 150 meters, ranking twentieth part of the whole area of the mountains. Mainly tundra dominates at the top of the mountain plateaus and slopes, it fills up the bottom of comb. If the beginning of vegetation zone is quite dense, then the top is thin, almost completely disappearing at the stony peaks. Mountain tundra differs from the Arctic, mainly because of better drainage mountain soils, and as a result, few swamps.

Alpine mountainous tundra of the Khibiny

Above the birch elfin woodland grow some species of bushes and shrubs, phyllodoce, recumbent larzelere, blueberries, crowberries and dryads. The most widespread tree here is the dwarf birch. Next to birches grow low junipers and willows of shrub type. The height of juniper’s brushwood does not exceed 40 cm. The mountain tops are covered by rocky soil. Scatterings of stones slowly move down the hill, that’s why the plants must have well developed root system for the survival. Here you can see growing are oxytropis and Lapland yellow colored poppies, whose roots go deep into the soil and branch out.

Just above the shrub vegetable covering is replaced by lichen and moss. They grow in such places, where the climate is too harsh for the other species of plants: in the bottom of the combs, on the tops of slopes and quite rarely at the top of the valleys. There are two types of mosses: green and sphagnous. There are lichens of the scale and sheet forms on the stone ruins.

The tops of the Khibiny mountains are desert and dejected. On the rocky ground you can see rare plants, occupying no more than the hundredth part of the surface. Stone fragments are completely covered by scale lichens. Colorful lichens give the mountain peaks more lively look. It seems that these stones are white, black, green or red. Such poverty area is explained by the strong winds, cold and low soil moisture. Around the edges of the mountain plateau ground water have created conditions for the favorable growing of sedge, juncus trifidus, luzula, Cassiopeia, willow, selenium and other small plants. Some plants are found in the central part of the plateau, here also grow mosses and saxifrage. Polar willow and silene acaulis root in the cracks between stones and form stocky turfings. Mountain saxifrage, rooted on the rocks, deserves special attention. It is the first to go in blossom on the tops of the Khibiny mountains.

Despite relatively poor vegetation, the flora of the Khibiny massif is of great benefit to people. On the slopes of the Khibiny you can meet growing medicinal plants used in folk medicine and in the medicines manufacture. At the end of June you can gather blueberries, blackberries, crowberies and cloudberries. In August-September cranberry is ripen. Among the useful vegetation can be found stone berry, mountain ash and cranberry. North towns of these places are beautifully decorated by blue phyllodoce, larzelere, saxifrage, dryads, Lapland tulips and dryads. Feed and melliferous plants are actively used in agriculture.

In the Khibiny you can observe a pronounced vertical zoning: at the bottom of mountains - the mountainous northern taiga forests, above them – mountain tundra crooked, above them and stone scatterings. Intensive deforestation has a negative impact on the nature of the Kola North. The wood is massively removed to the province. In this area new trees grow very slowly, that’s why the continuation of the active felling can lead to almost complete elimination of the dense forests. Kola forests can turn into dejected rocky terrain with rare birch groves in a few decades.

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