Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
White spruce plants of taiga

Taiga Plants

Very few species of taiga plants and trees can survive in taiga due to bone-chilling harsh weather conditions.

What kind of Plants are /grow in the Taiga ?

Birch, alder, larch, poplar and willow are some small-leaved deciduous plants found in taiga. Fireweed plants and lichen woodland also grow in taiga. Besides these coniferous trees like pines, spruce, hemlock and fir are found in taiga forest.

Large number of taiga plants are coniferous. These trees are also known as evergreens. Evergreen trees have a number of modifications for survival in harsh winter conditions of taiga. Even though the most cold-tolerant of all taiga plants is Larch, a deciduous tree.

Evergreens of taiga have long, thin, waxy needles. Coniferous trees don’t loose their leaves like deciduous trees. They keep their needles all year long.

How Plants save their lives in Taiga ?

Taiga plants needles
Needles of taiga plants

The wax of their needles protect them from freezing and drying out in winter. Dark color of needles absorb more heat from the sun and help to start photosynthesis early in short summer.

The evergreen needles limits the water loss due to transpiration. This helps taiga plants and trees during winter season, when the ground freezes and roots are unable to absorb water.

Most of the trees (Evergreens) and plants of taiga prefer to be slim and pile up near each other. This tactics protects them from winds and cold weather of taiga.

Upside down cone shaped taiga plants
Upside down cone shaped taiga plants

Coniferous trees of taiga are usually upside down cone shaped. This protects branches from crushing due to the weight of the snow during winter. The snow slides down from the slanting branches of taiga plants.

Wild fires of Taiga

wildfires, taiga plants
Taiga plants are susceptible to wildfires

Taiga forest and plants are vulnerable to wild fires (with return times 20-200 years). Taiga plants have adapted them against fires. They have grown thick bark.

The fire of taiga burns away upper awning of the plants. This makes way for the sunlight to reach the ground.

After burning upper canopy of taiga plants, the area becomes capacious. The roomy area let new plants to grow and provide food for animals.

The animals also start living in that area, which was cramped and filled due to evergreen trees.

Although, the taiga is dominated by coniferous plants and forest, some broadleaf taiga plants also grow here. Like birch, wollow, rowan and aspen.

Some herbaceous taiga plants like fern and ramps occasionally grow closer to the ground. For some species of taiga plants, wildfires are necessary part of life cycle in taiga.

The cones of Jack Pine open to release their seeds only after fire. These taiga plants disperse their seeds to the newly cleared ground. Certain species of fungi (like morels) are also know for this.

Grasses grows wherever they find a patch of sunlight on the ground. Mosses and lichens grow on the humid ground and on the sides of the tree trunks.

Geographic locations of Taiga plants
Geographical location and map of taiga plants
Geographical location of taiga plants

Spruces (Picea) are found in the forest of North America, Scandinavia, Finland and Russia. Larches (Larix) are grounded in Russian and Eastern Siberian Taiga.

Pines (Pinus) originate in Scandinavian, Finnish & Russian Taiga Forest. Birch (Betula), which is a deciduous plant, is found in very less regions as compared to other species of taiga plants found in Scandinavia & Finland.

Threats to Taiga Plants
forestry, taiga plants
forestry is major threat to taiga plants

Forestry is the worst threat to the taiga plants. Other things that threaten them are forest fires, insects, and pesticides. People use the plant life of the Taiga mainly for wood to make tissue, furniture and paper.

List of few Taiga Plants:
  • Alder
  • Balsam Fir
  • Black Spruce
  • Douglas-fir
  • Eastern Red Cedar
  • Fireweed
  • Jack Pine
  • Paper Birch
  • Siberian Spruce
  • White Fir
  • White Poplar
  • White Spruce
  • Willow

Common Name(s): Alder

Genus: Alnus

Species: Red Alder, Black Alder, Alnus viridis

Parts Used: Catkins, Wood, Bark

Known As: Taiga Plants

Alder trees
Alder trees

With a few exceptions, alders are deciduous taiga plants, and the leaves are alternate, simple, and serrated. The flowers are catkins with elongate male catkins on the same plant as shorter female catkins, often before leaves appear; they are mainly wind-pollinated, but also visited by bees to a small extent. These trees differ from the birches (Betula, the other genus in the family) in that the female catkins are woody and do not disintegrate at maturity, opening to release the seeds in a similar manner to many conifer cones.

The largest species are red alder (A. rubra) on the west coast of North America, and black alder (A. glutinosa), native to most of Europe and widely introduced elsewhere, both reaching over 30 m. By contrast, the widespread Alnus viridis(green alder) is rarely more than a 5-m-tall shrub.

Alders are commonly found near streams, rivers, and wetlands. In the Pacific Northwest of North America, the white alder (Alnus rhombifolia) unlike other northwest alders, has an affinity for warm, dry climates, where it grows along watercourses, such as along the lower Columbia River east of the Cascades and the Snake River, including Hells Canyon.

Alder leaves and sometimes catkins are used as food by numerous butterflies and moths.

A. glutinosa and A. viridis are classed as environmental weeds in New Zealand. Alder leaves and especially the roots are important to the ecosystem because they enrich the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients.

Balsam Fir

Common Name(s): Eastern Fir, Canadian Balsam, Blister Fir

Known As: Taiga Plants

taiga plants
Balsam fir

You can find the Balsam Fir in northeastern North America, from Virginia to Newfoundland and northwest towards Yukon and Labrador. The balsam Fir can be found in many biomes including the Taiga biome.

The Balsam Fir is a small to medium sized native evergreen taiga plant. This taiga plant can grow to be 40 to 80 feet tall. The Balsam fir has a wide base and a narrow top that

ends in a slender, spire-like top. The branches of these taiga plants grow from the trunk at right angles, with the lower branches spreading and drooping to the ground when the tree grows in the open. In a dense stands, many of the lower branches are dead. It can grow to be a maximum of 200 years old.

The Balsam Fir’s needles are 1 1/2 inches long. They are flat, rounded at the tip, and normally have a strong curve. They are dark green above and whitened below. The balsam fir’s bark is smooth thin and have a grayish color. Blisters of resin appear on the bark of old trees, from which it gets one of its common names. Balsam fir has a shallow root system that rarely grows deeper than 30 inches.

The cones stand upright on the 1st year growth of the upper branches. These taiga plants produces their first seeds when they are 20 years old, or 15 feet tall. The seeds are winged and are mostly dispersed by the wind, travelling from 20 to 525 feet from the parent tree.

The Balsam fir is a late successional, or climax growth taiga plant. This means that they grow in old, undisturbed forests. The Balsam fir is the least fire resistant of evergreen in North America, and its seeds are destroyed by fire. Balsam firs first appear 30 to 50 years after a fire.

Balsam fir is one of the major food supplies for moose in the winter. Caribou and white tailed deer leave this taiga plant alone. Red squirrels eats the male flower buds. Deer, caribou and moose use Balsam fir stands as cover in the winter because the snow is not as deep under them as in hardwood stands.

The wood of these taiga plants are sometime used as lumber. It is lightweight, low in bending and low in resistance to shock as well. The tree is often used as a Christmas tree, pulpwood, or cabin logs.

Samantha S. 2000.

Black Spruce

Common Names: Black Spruce, Bog Spruce, Swamp Spruce, épinette noire
Genus: Picea
Species: mariana

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga plants
Black spruce trees of taiga

The Black Spruce is a tall taiga plant. It can grow to be twenty-five meters tall. It grows in the taiga biome. As the tree gets older the crown of the tree gets more and more like a spike. The Black Spruce has sharp needles with four sides on them. The needles are blue-green, short, and pointed. They are usually a half an inch long. The bark of the tree is gray-brown. The branches of these taiga plants are short and drooping, and are usually layered.

The Black Spruce has pine-cones. The pine-cones are black and the seeds are usually a purplish-brown. Many animals such as deer, moose and elk do not feed of this taiga plant. The white tailed deer only eat the saplings under starvation. But many birds eat this plant seeds. The seeds of this tree give the animal’s nutrients.

The Black Spruce enjoys colder climates in the northern part of the world. It is all over the taiga forest.

It also enjoys poorly drained soil. The Black Spruce is able to survive in the colder climates because of its layered twigs, waxy pine needles, and rough bark. These survival skills protect these taiga plants from the cold and predators. Also from forest fires. The Black Spruce does not have a special root system.

These taiga plants are used to build house. It is a good type of wood to make houses because of its layered wood. Layered wood is wood that is very thick and has many layers of bark. Some other values this tree has are, Christmas trees, antiscorbutic beverages, and rope. The Black Spruce is not an endangered species. It is plentiful in the wild.

Erinn L. 2001


Common Names: bigcone Douglas-fir, Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir
Genus: Pseudotsuga
Species: menziesii
Parts Used: The trunk is used for lumber and the leaves can be steeped for tea.

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
Douglas Fir at Sproat Lake

Douglas-firs are very big taiga plants. They can grow from 40 to 60 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide. Because of this they are one of the most important lumber trees in the world.The wood is used as lumber, timbers, and plywood. The dense wood is very hard, stiff and durable.

Animals forage off the Douglas-fir in the winter or early spring when their other food supplies are covered in snow or haven’t come up yet. Mule deer like it more than elk, but it is not an important food for both. Bears often scrape off the bark on young trees and eat the sap layer beneath.

The common name of the Douglas-fir is hyphenated because it isn’t a true fir. It was named after David Douglas, the Scottish botanist.

Like most taiga plants of its family it has a fine texture and is pyramid shaped. The trunk on older trees are free of branches. They have a short cylindrical crown with a flattened top. Needles are flat with a pointed tip. The top of the needles are bright yellowish-green with a single groove down the center; the bottom of the needles are paler. The needles appear to stand out around the twig. The cones of these taiga plants are 1-3 inches long, turning from green to grey as they mature. Small bracts with three prongs grow between each scale. They curls up when the cone gets older, making the cone look very bristled. The bark of the Douglas-fir becomes very thick and grooved, with dark brown ridges as the tree grows older.

Native Americans had many uses for Douglas-fir. They used the wood and the branches as fuel for cooking. They also use these taiga plants for fishing hooks and for handles. Douglas-fir branches were used for covering the floors of lodges and sweat lodges.

The Douglas fir is vulnerable to clay because it is a wet substance and it can rot the roots. Also the needles can get infected with fungi and this causes them to fall out .

Mason F. 2000.

Eastern Red Cedar

Common Names: Red Cedar, grave yard tree
Genus: Juniperus
Species: virginiana

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
Eastern Red Cedar at South Riding Golf Club

The Eastern Red Cedar are small evergreen taiga plants that commonly grows to a height of 10-50 feet. Its name is misleading since it is a juniper and not a cedar. Its range is from Nova Scotia to northern Florida, and west to the Dakotas and Texas. These taiga plants can grow in any type of soil, and will take over abandoned fields and fence rows. Eastern Red Cedars prefer full sun and seedlings don’t grow well in forests. When red cedars are found growing in a forest, you can be sure that these taiga plants started growing when it was an open field.

The Eastern Red Cedar grows in a pyramid shape. The top rounds off as it grows older. It has two types of leaves.

The older leaves are flat and scale-like and only 1/16 of an inch long. The younger leaves are sharp-pointed and may be up to 3/4 of an inch long. They have whitish lines on top. In the summer they are a brilliant green, but in the winter they can turn copper yellow to rusty brown.

The wood of the Eastern Red Cedar is very durable and often used as fence posts. These taiga plants contain an oil that repels moths. The oil is also used in medicines and perfume. The bark is reddish brown and peels off in stringy strips. It can be used to make a reddish dye.

Male and female flowers of the Eastern Red Cedar grow on separate trees. The fruit of these taiga plants are a waxy, bluish berry about 1/4 of an inch in diameter, and are covered with a white powder.

The Eastern Red Cedar is a slow growing tree and lives to be very old. It gets its name, grave yard tree, because of an old superstition that says, when a red cedar you planted grows tall enough to shade your grave, it will be time for you to die.

The taiga plant’s fruit provides food for animals such as pheasants, Cedar wax-wings and other song birds. Birds eat the seeds and spread them. Many animals use it as food and shelter in the winter. The wood is used to make fence posts and wooden pencils.

Samantha S.  2000.


Common Name: Fireweed

Scientific name: Chamerion angustifolium

Genus: Chamerion

Species: C. angustifolium

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
Fireweed on the Klondike Highway

The reddish stems of this herbaceous perennial are usually simple, erect, smooth, 0.5–2.5 m (1½–8 feet) high with scattered alternate leaves. The leaves are entire, lanceolate, and pinnately veined. A related species, dwarf fireweed (Chamerion latifolium), grows to 0.3–0.6 m tall.

The flowers have four magenta to pink petals, 2 to 3 cm in diameter. The styles have four stigmas, which occur in symmetrical terminal racemes.

The reddish-brown linear seed capsule splits from the apex. It bears many minute brown seeds, about 300 to 400 per capsule and 80,000 per plant. The seeds have silky hairs to aid wind dispersal and are very easily spread by the wind, often becoming a weed and a dominant species on disturbed ground. Once established, the plants also spread extensively by underground roots, an individual plant eventually forming a large patch.

The leaves of fireweed are unique in that the leaf veins are circular and do not terminate on the edges of the leaf, but form circular loops and join together inside the outer leaf margins. This feature makes the plants very easy to identify in all stages of growth. When fireweed first emerges in early spring, it can closely resemble several highly toxic members of the lily family, however, it is easily identified by its unique leaf vein structure.

Jack Pine

Common Names: Eastern jack, Grey, Black, Black jack, Scrub, Prince’s pine or Banksiana pine or Pin gris.
Genus: Pinus
Species: banksiana

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
Jack Pine at Taiga

The Jack pine usually grows to be twenty-seven meters tall and sixteen and thirty-two centimeter diameter around the trunk. As it grows these taiga plants get rounder and rounder around the crown area. The bark of the jack pine is a reddish-brown. The bark is also flat. As the tree gets older the bark gets grayer. The jack pine has needles instead of leaves. The jack pine has long and slender twigs. They are a reddish color. The jack pine has pinecones that store and produce its seeds. The seeds are usually four to five millimeters long and are dark brown. The Jack Pine gives most animals their nurturance. The tree gives its nurturance to mostly rodents.

The jack pine lives in the taiga biome, which is a semi cold forest in the northern hemisphere. It is mostly found in the colder states and countries. Some examples are, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. The jack pine is plentiful in the wild.

These taiga plants adapt to flat or hilly areas that have sandy soil. The jack pine does not have a special root system. It is possible for the jack pine to grow in the taiga because of its waxy pine needles and rough bark. It

is good to have waxy pine needles and rough bark in the taiga because the wax on the pine needles protects the needles and so does the rough bark. These things protect the tree from the cold wind in the taiga. These characteristcs also protect these taiga plants from the weather, which is usually cold. In the taiga, the brush starts forest fires and the waxy pine needles and rough bark protect the tree. The jack pine has long and slender twigs so the snow does not stick onto the twig.

The jack pine has two major uses. The jack pine is used to build houses and it is used to make pulp for paper.

by Erinn L.  2001

Paper Birch

Common Names: White Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch
Genus: Betula
Species: papyrifera
Parts Used: bark, wood and sap

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
Paper Birch at Bryce Lake (Taiga)
Paper birch trees have a thin bark that peels in horizontal layers which separates into sheets, almost like paper. Birch trees can grow in pairs or clusters. There are many different types of birch trees and they all grow fairly tall. Both the sweet and paper birch can grow anywhere from sixty to eighty feet high. Some smaller types of birches are yellow birch, which grows anywhere from fifty to seventy-five feet, the river birch which grows anywhere from fifty to sixty feet, and the smallest yet, the gray birch which very rarely grows higher than forty feet. Birch nutlets are fairly small and grow in a cone. Birchesproduce long catkins (scaly spikes) which hold tiny flowers. The closed male catkins appear in the autumn, whereas the female ones dont appear until the following spring.

Paper birch or white birch was used by Indians to make birchbark canoes; therefore, it received the name, Canoe birch. Indians still make ornaments and small baskets of birchbark. Siberians collect the sap of the weeping birch to make syrup.

Birch is a group of about forty trees and shrubs of North America, Europe, and Northern Asia. Paper birch grows in the taiga, or boreal forests, of Canada as far north as the tundra, and in the deciduous forests of the northern United States as far south as the Appalachian Mountains. The European white birch grows in northern Europe.

by Leah E.  2000

Siberian Spruce

Genus: Pecea

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
Siberian Spruce at Taiga

The Pecia ovobata, or Siberian Spruce, is a tall, perennial needle-leaf tree. The Siberian Spruce is a very beautiful tree that can grow up to about 30 meters high. The trunk of this spruce is about 1.5 meters in diameter. It has slightly drooping branches that make it look like a pyramid. It has thin twigs that are yellow – green in color. The twigs are also slightly glossy. The Siberian spruce is a coniferous tree so it grows pine needles and pine cones. The needles are short from 10 – 18 mm. long and they are angular in cross section. They are a dull green color and more appressed to the upper branch. The pine cones are cylindrical and oval shaped. They are 6 – 8 cm. long and grow on ether side of the pine needles. When the pine cones are immature they are purple. When the pine cones become mature they turn brown like most pine cones.

You can find the Siberian spruce in the Siberian Taiga or Boreal forests of Siberia. The taiga is the largest biome on the earth, stretching over Eurasia and North America. It is located just below the tundra

biome, near the top of the world. The Siberian Spruce makes up 5.7% of the total area of the Boreal forest.

There are extreme temperatures in the Siberian Taiga. The summers are very hot, reaching over 100ºF . The winters are bitterly cold , dipping down to – 80ºF. The winters are cold and lonely because all the animals are hibernating or have flown south. Only a few animals stay for the winter. There are actually only two main seasons in the taiga. They are Summer and Winter. Spring and Autumn are really short so you barely know they exist. The Siberian taiga is not an easy place for humans to live because of the weather. Most of the taigaís area is in the the watersheds of the Yenisey and Lena river systems. If you were to go the the Siberian taiga you would find yourself in a cold coniferous forest for miles!

The conical shape of the Pecia ovobata promotes shedding of snow and prevents loss of branches. The narrowness of the needles reduce surface area through which water may be lost. They also have a thick waxy coating that is water proof. This protects the needles from drying winds. The dark green color of the needles helps the foliage absorb maximum heat from the sun and begin photosynthesis sooner.

The Siberian Boreal forest is an important industry for the Russian Federation. Moose eat the twigs of trees in the Siberian taiga. Birds also eat the seeds of trees that grow in that area. The Siberian spruce and other trees in the Boreal forest have been logged since the 1950ís. The trees are being logged for money. They are also being logged to build houses.

The Pecia ovobata is not on the endangered list, but the Siberian boreal forest is. Human induced forest fires, clear cutting, air pollution and poaching are all major threats to the Siberian Taiga and the Boreal forest.

by Tessa W. 2002

White Fir

Common Names: Silver Fir, Colorado Fir
Genus: Abies
Species: concolor
Parts Used: the wood is used for lumber and the whole tree is often used for Christmas trees.

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
White fir in winter of taiga

The White Fir is 60-100 feet tall and can live up to 300 years making it a very large forest tree. The leaves are 2 to 3 inches long and slightly flattened. They are silvery blue to silvery green, curve up from the stem and are soft to the touch. The cones are 2-5 inches long colored an olive green to purple color. They grow upright in the top of the tree. The bark is described as being thin. The bark is ashy gray with resin blisters.You can find the White Fir in most of the western regions of North America. It is the only native fir of the North American Taiga.

The most used part of the White fir is the wood, which is used as lumber. The tree is also often used as a Christmas tree. It smells great and has sturdy branches, which hold their shape well. Squirrels enjoy the White Firs seeds.

Porcupines like to gnaw on the White Fir’s bark. The tree is also a great home for the grouse. In the winter it makes a great roosting place and they can feed off of the buds and needles.

by Samantha S.  2000

White Poplar

Common Names: Silver Poplar
Genus: Populus
Species: alba
Parts Used: wood

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
White Poplar in the wind

Poplars do not live very long. It is illegal to plant these taiga plants along streets in some cities because they clog underground drainpipes and sewers. Poplar wood is light whitish/brownish in color. It is soft, light, and fairly weak. The white poplar has leaves that are silvery white, and the bark on the branches is white. They also have three to five lobes, just like a maple leaf. Poplars grow best in moist places.

Poplar trees are often planted as shade trees because they grow so fast. Manufacturers use poplar wood to make boxes and crates. Papermakers use it for paper pulp. Papermakers also use it to make excelsior,

wood shavings used for stuffing furniture and for packing breakable objects.

Poplar trees are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. About ten of the 35 species of these taiga plants are native to North America. Balsam or tacamahac poplar grows throughout Canada. It can live as far north as trees can go and as far south as Northern United States.

by Leah E.  2000

White Spruce

Common Names: Canada Spruce, Cat Spruce, Single Spruce
Genus: Picea
Species: glauca
Parts Used: landscape trees

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
White Spruce with reversion in one branch

Most spruce needles are four-sided, stiff, and less than one inch long, 2.5 centimeters to be exact. Woody, peglike projections help join the needles to the twigs. Spruce trees grow tall and most are shaped like pyramids. Some taiga plants grow as tall as one hundred and fifty feet, specifically the white spruce. The spruce tree is an evergreen color but specific types of spruces, the black spruce for example, are named for the color of their bark and foliage.

The needle-like leaves attached to the common spruce trees are used to hold in moisture. This taiga plant is widely planted in yards because of its beautiful silver-blue foliage.

Some spruce trees grow beyond the Arctic Circle, whereas others can grow as far south as the Pyrenees Mountains.

Approximately forty different types of these taiga plants are native to the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, spruce trees grow as far south as North Carolina and Arizona. The Sitka spruce grows on the Pacific Coast from northern California to Alaska.

by Leah E.  2000


Common name(s): Sallows, Osiers

Genus: Salix

Species: Arctic, Alpine

Parts used: Leaves, Bark and Wood

Known As: Taiga Plants

Taiga Plants
Bloedel Reserve Willow Tree

Willows all have abundant watery bark sap, which is heavily charged with salicylic acid, soft, usually pliant, tough wood, slender branches, and large, fibrous, often stoloniferous roots. The roots are remarkable for their toughness, size, and tenacity to life, and roots readily grow from aerial parts of these taiga plants.

The leaves are typically elongated, but may also be round to oval, frequently with serrated edges. Most species are deciduous; semievergreen willows; coriaceous leaves are rare, e.g. Salix micans and S. australior in the eastern Mediterranean. All the buds are lateral; no absolutely terminal bud is ever formed. The buds are covered by a single scale. Usually, the bud scale is fused into a cap-like shape, but in some species it wraps around and the edges overlap. The leaves are simple, feather-veined, and typically linear-lanceolate. Usually they are serrate, rounded at base, acute or acuminate. The leaf petioles are short, the stipules often very conspicuous, resembling tiny, round leaves, and sometimes remaining for half the summer. On some species, however, they are small, inconspicuous, and caducous (soon falling). In color, the leaves show a great variety of greens, ranging from yellowish to bluish taiga plants.