Included here is a zone that extends from Norway to the northern Urals. Its southern boundary includes all but the southern tips of Norway and Finland, while in Russia it falls just short of the River Volga. In the north it includes all of the Norwegian islands within the Arctic Circle and in Russia it runs just north of the Arctic Circle.

Northern European Boreal Acidic Birch Forest

These are largely characterized by downy birch Betula pubescens. The shrub layer species vary but usually include Emperum nigrum and Vaccinium myrtillus in the more acidic areas, and Daphne mezereum, Ribes spicatum and a northern form of bird cherry Prunus padus in the less acidic areas. The field layer also varies with Melampyrum pratense, M sylvaticum, Potentilla erecta and Solidago virgaurea in acidic conditions and with increasing wetness species such as Cornus suecica, Geranium sylvaticum, Omalotheca norvegica, Trollius europaeus and Viola biflora become more conspicuous. Lush field layers are only found where conditions are calcareous. Here species such as Aconitum sepentrionale, Cicurbita alpine, Milium effusum, Polygonatum verticillatum and the European endemic Corydalis intermedia (Fumariaceae) may be encountered.

Northern European Boreal Heath

Most of the heaths of northern Europe are confined to montane or alpine zones. Typical ericaceous shrublets include Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Calluna vulgaris, Cassiope hypnoides, Empetrum nigrum, Loiseleuria procumbens, Vaccinium myrtillus and V. uliginosum. The dwarf birch Betula nana, Juniperus communis and various Salix species are also usually present. Herbaceous elements are mainly mountain species such as Cerastium alpinum, Dryas octopetalum, Kobresia myosuroides, Polygonum alpinum and the European endemic Galium pumilum (Rubiaceae).


Dahl, E. 1998. The Phytogeography of Northern Europe. Cambridge University Press.

Haapasaari, M. 1988. The oligotrophic heath vegetation of northern Fennoscandia and its zonation. Acta Botanica Fennica, 135: 1-219.

Oksanen, L. & Virtanen, R. 1995. Topographic, altitudinal and regional patterns in the continental and sub oceanic heath vegetation of northern Fennoscandia. Acta Botanica Fennica, 153:1-80.

Polunin, O. & Walters, M. 1985. A guide to the vegetation of Britain and Europe. Oxford University Press.

Ratcliffe, D. 2005. Lapland: A Natural History. T & A D Poyser.

Szafer, W. 1966. The Vegetation of Poland. Pergamon Press.