Volume 4 Part 1 Article 12: The Fungus Flora of the Arctic

Volume 4 Part 1 Article 12
Year 1960
Title: The Fungus Flora of the Arctic
Author: M. Lange


The larger fungi are to a very great extent known to be confined to woodland. The number of species occuring in meadows and pastures is rather low. It would thus be a very natural thought that the fungus flora above the timberline, in the alpine zones, and in the arctic, would be very sparse. Even a very superficial study of these areas will show this to be a grave mistake. The fungus component is in fact of great significance in the flora of arctic areas.

A great number of smaller forms grows attached to moss and litter and occur almost as far up in the alpine zones as plants can grow at all. Even on the high mountain tops, snow clad about eleven months a year, fungi of this type will be found scattered in the few tufts of moss. But these are only the very outposts of the arctic fungus flora. A much larger number of species and also a considerable number of larger forms occur associated with the dwarf shrub communities which are dominant in arctic areas. – Seen from a mycological point of view one could here well talk of a “micro-forest” where the “trees” are dwarfish, creeping low over the soil while the fungi may form the higher and more prominent parts of this wood.

The background for this is the fact that the fungi are mainly confined to the woods on account of two factors – Their symbiotic life with the trees, established through mycorrhiza of mycelium and the tree roots, and the humidity of the forest climate.

The mycorrhizal relation is the more important. It is for this purpose of no importance whether the tree is only a dwarfish shrub. The dwarf birch (Betula nana) will in the main have the same mycorrhizal fungi as the birches in our woods, and this holds true also for arctic species of Salix compared with our Willows.

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