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 Alder Woodland

These woodlands or carrs are largely dominated by Alnus incana, but Alnus glutinosa may also be present. They fringe the Bothnian coastline and spread inland along river valleys into adjacent mountainous areas. Shrub layer species may include Ribes spicatum and there is often a rich field layer of herbaceous species such as Caltha palustris, Campanula latifolia, Cardamine amara, Gagea lutea, Paris quadrifolia, Peucedanum palustre, Ranunculus auricomus and the European endemic Glycera lithuanica (Poaceae). Among the more interesting pteridophytes are the horsetail Equisetum pratense and the fern Matteuccia struthiopteris.

Northern European Boreal Mire

Mire is an extensive habitat in northern Europe covering, for example, about 32% of Finland. They may be ombrotrophic (receiving nutrients only from rain water) or minerotrophic (receiving additional nutrients from terrestrial sources). The former always have a low nutrient status but nutrient status of minerotrophic systems may be low (oligotrophic), intermediate (mesotrophic) or high (eutrophic). Numerous mire plant communities have been described including ombrotropic pine (Pinus sylvestris) mire, mesotrophic spruce (Picea abies) mire and eutrophic birch (Betula pubescens) mire. There are also many types of mire characterised by herbaceous species particularly Carex, Eriophorus and mosses such as Calliergon, Campylium and Sphagnum. In terms of morphology, the most extensive mire type in the boreal region is known as aapa mire distinguished by a series of ridges or hummocks with alternating hollows (flarks) and ridges. These structures are formed as a result of frost heaving and flowing melt water. The watery flarks are minerotrophic while the ridges are largely ombrotrophic. Consequently, they support different plant species. Common flark species include the insectivorous sundew Drosera intermedia and the beak sedge Rhychosporum alba together with Andromeda polifolia, Eriophorum vaginatum, Scirpus cespitosa and Vaccinium oxycoccus, while common ridge species include Betula nana, Calluna vulgaris, Empetrum nigrum and Rubus chamaeorus. In the more nutrient rich areas fen vegetation rich in orchids such as Dactylorhiza cruenta, D. traunsteineri and Malaxis monophyllos can be found. On the other hand, these northern mires support few strictly endemic species but may include several European endemics such as Saxifrage hirculus (Saxifragaceae) and Schoenus ferrugineus (Cyperaceae).  


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

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.