Seasonal snow bank environment

This habitat lies at the upper end of the high alpine zone, reaching the places where the snow never melts. The snow covers the ground in these small depressions for more than nine months of the year, and when it melts, the ground stays soaked and sodden.

The plants that live in these little valleys are dwarves that are able to make the most of the available resources. They go through their reproductive cycle in a very brief interval: two months are sufficient, since they produce buds at the end of the summer, so they are ready to bloom as soon as the snow melts the following summer. This is the home of a genuine miniature tree, the herbaceous willow, which forms a thick carpet over the ground. It is associated with other species, like the cut-leaved Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla pentaphyllea) and the glacial cudweed (Gnaphalium supinum), whose leaves seem coated in silver thanks to their thick hairs.

 

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