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Ecological Framework of Canada
Taiga Plains Ecozone


  1. Paper Birch
  2. Fire Snag
  3. Willow
  4. Wild Rose
  5. Trembling Aspen
  6. Tamarack
  7. Green Alder
  8. White Spruce
  9. Arboreal Lichens
  10. Balsam Poplar
  11. Jack Pine

Permafrost, where present, detracts from the soil's productivity by chilling it and creating waterlogged conditions in the thawed "active layer" near the surface. Taiga Plains plant communities are relatively simple, dominated by a few species well-adapted to poor soil conditions and the harsh subarctic climate.

Tree species of the northern taiga forest, or "land of little sticks," include Black Spruce, White Spruce, Jack Pine, Tamarack, Paper Birch, Trembling Aspen, and Balsam Poplar. Though less frequent, White Spruce and Balsam Poplar may grow to an impressive height and girth on the nutrient-enriched alluvial flats bordering rivers, rivalling the largest of trees found elsewhere in Canada. Willow and alder shrubs also flourish in this habitat.

Low shrubs are abundant throughout this ecozone and include many species of heathers, such as Labrador Tea and Leatherleaf, plus a wide array of berry-producing species, including Cranberries, Currants, and Blueberries. Lichens and mosses dominate the ground cover, often forming a thick continuous carpet. Wetlands feature various sedges and mosses.

Forest fires that destroy several thousand hectares of trees are not uncommon in this ecozone. On average, 1% of the Northwest Territories' forests burn every year. Many taiga plant species benefit from the regular cycle of fires, which can purge old, stagnant forests of insects and disease. The distinctive mosaic of forest types created by fires usually results in a boost to the overall productivity and diversity of habitats available to wildlife.