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  4. Stretching Out, Arctic-Plant Style!

Stretching Out, Arctic-Plant Style!

Small and compact, Arctic plants are well-adapted to life on the tundra, where it is important to stay toasty warm during the short summer. Many members of the Museum's botany team enjoy practicing yoga and noticed that some of the poses in their practice closely match the traits that help Arctic plants thrive!

Make like an Arctic plant: chill out and try these simple poses.

Paul Sokoloff © Canadian Museum of Nature, treebeena –


Cornwallis Island poppy (Papaver cornwallisense).

Position 1: Sun Salutation

Arctic poppies follow the sun to keep their seeds warm. We call this heliotropism. The bright yellow petals concentrate warmth on the developing seeds in the centre of the flower.


Paul Sokoloff © Canadian Museum of Nature


One-flowered locoweed (Oxytropis arctobia).

Position 2: Child's Pose

Cushion plants stay toasty by being compact, which minimizes their exposure to the environment outside. This form can be found in many Arctic-plant species from different plant families.


Paul Sokoloff © Canadian Museum of Nature


Black spruce (Picea mariana).

Position 3: Tree Pose

Small spruces must hold on tight in the cold, windy environments at the northern treeline. Small trees can be found within 40 km of the Arctic Ocean along the Coppermine River valley, the northernmost extent of the treeline in Nunavut.


Paul Sokoloff © Canadian Museum of Nature, dityazemli/


Arctic willow (Salix arctica).

Position 4: Corpse Pose

Above the treeline, shrubs grow close to the ground, keeping out of the wind and soaking up warmth from the sun. This adaptation helps Arctic-willow plants thrive as far north as Ellesmere Island, Nunavut.