Yes, at 79ºN, far above the polar circle we find trees on the tundra. Don’t look up though, you have to look down. In fact, any time you walk around on the tundra you might be standing on a forest…

Technically a shrub (not enough wood in their cells) the Polar Willow are found on most of the tundra on the western parts of Spitsbergen. In autumn they colour yellow, red and orange (see above) and they have catkins earlier in the season. And, just as in their larger counterparts further south, you can count year rings. The only difference is you need a microscope in this case. But they can get well over 50 years of age.

Net-leaved Willow

This year I was lucky enough to even find another, slightly larger, tree: the Net-leaved Willow. The leaves are slightly larger, so are the catkins and you can see a different vein pattern in the leaves. Not as common as the Polar Willow, but nice to have added to my list.

And on Spitsbergen the Icelandic joke works as well: What do you do when you are lost in the forest on Spitsbergen?

You get up from the ground…

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