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Arctic Sandwort

Arenaria norvegica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Meadows, mountains, rocky places.

White, 5 petals
Small white flowers with rounded, unnotched petals. The petals are longer than the sepals, unlike the majority of sandwort species. 8 to 10 stamens.
Egg-shaped, 6-parted fruit. Black seeds.
A short perennial flower, rare in Britain. The leaves are small, not toothed and oval to spoon-shaped, in opposite pairs along the stems. The almost stalkless leaves measure up to 6mm in length. usually encountered growing on lime in bare places, or on screes.
Other Names:
Mountain Sandwort, Norwegian Sandwort, Scottish Sandwort.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Arenaria norvegica, also known as mountain sandwort, is a perennial herb native to Europe, Asia, and North America. It typically grows to be about 15-30 cm tall and has small, white flowers that bloom in the summer. The leaves of the plant are linear and are covered in fine, white hairs. It typically grows in rocky or gravelly soils in open areas such as mountains, hills, and alpine meadows. It is considered a threatened species in some areas due to habitat loss and overgrazing.


Arctic Sandwort, also known as Arenaria norvegica, is a small, herbaceous plant that is commonly found in arctic and subarctic regions of the world. This hardy plant has adapted to extreme weather conditions and thrives in rocky, gravelly soils.

Arctic Sandwort typically grows to be only a few inches tall and has small, white flowers that bloom in the summer. The leaves of this plant are narrow and pointed, and are covered in fine hairs that help protect the plant from the cold and wind.

One of the most interesting features of Arctic Sandwort is its ability to photosynthesize through its stem. This allows the plant to continue to grow and produce energy even when its leaves are buried under snow or ice.

Arctic Sandwort is an important food source for many arctic animals, including caribou, reindeer, and lemmings. It is also used by humans as a traditional medicinal herb, with some cultures using it to treat conditions such as stomach pain and diarrhea.

As global temperatures continue to rise, the Arctic is experiencing significant changes in its environment. This could have a significant impact on Arctic Sandwort and the other plants and animals that depend on it. Understanding the biology and ecology of Arctic Sandwort is crucial for monitoring the health of arctic ecosystems and predicting the effects of climate change.

Arctic Sandwort is a fascinating and important plant that plays a crucial role in the ecology of the Arctic. As we continue to learn more about this hardy little plant, we can gain a better understanding of the delicate balance of life in this unique and fragile ecosystem.

Arctic Sandwort is a member of the family Caryophyllaceae, which includes many other species of plants commonly found in rocky, dry environments. Some related species of Arenaria are also known to occur in similar habitats in more temperate regions, but Arctic Sandwort is one of the few plants that is adapted to survive in such harsh arctic conditions.

The distribution of Arctic Sandwort is circumpolar, meaning it is found all around the Arctic region, including in North America, Europe, and Asia. In North America, it is found throughout Alaska and Canada, and as far south as the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming.

The plant's common name, "sandwort," refers to its ability to grow in sandy or rocky soils. It is also sometimes called "northern sandwort" or "Alaska sandwort," reflecting its common occurrence in the Arctic.

Arctic Sandwort has been the subject of numerous scientific studies, including research on its physiological adaptations to extreme cold and wind, and its potential use in ecological restoration projects in arctic regions. As a hardy and adaptable plant, Arctic Sandwort has the potential to be an important tool in efforts to restore degraded or disturbed ecosystems in the Arctic.

Overall, Arctic Sandwort is a fascinating and important plant with unique adaptations to survive in the harsh conditions of the Arctic. It plays a critical role in the ecology of the region, providing food and habitat for many animals and serving as an important indicator of the health of Arctic ecosystems.

In addition to its ecological importance, Arctic Sandwort has cultural significance as well. Many indigenous communities in the Arctic rely on the plant for traditional uses, such as for food and medicine. For example, the Inupiat people of Alaska traditionally use Arctic Sandwort to make a tea that is believed to relieve upset stomachs and promote digestion.

The study of Arctic Sandwort is also important in the context of climate change. As temperatures continue to rise in the Arctic, the distribution and abundance of Arctic Sandwort, as well as other arctic plant and animal species, may be affected. Scientists are studying the effects of climate change on Arctic Sandwort and other Arctic species in order to better understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change on these ecosystems.

Furthermore, Arctic Sandwort is an example of a plant that has evolved unique adaptations to survive in extreme environments. Understanding the genetic and physiological mechanisms that allow Arctic Sandwort to survive in the Arctic could have important implications for agriculture and other industries that face challenges related to extreme weather conditions and limited resources.

In conclusion, Arctic Sandwort is a fascinating and important plant that plays a crucial role in the ecology and culture of the Arctic. As our understanding of this plant and its adaptations grows, we can gain a better understanding of the delicate balance of life in the Arctic and the effects of climate change on these unique ecosystems.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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