Why are some of the alpine plants hairy?« Back to Questions List

Alpine plants are those that grow high up on mountains where it is extremely cold with freezing winds. The home of the alpine plants is the mountains of Europe (specifically the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Apennines) where it grows to the elevations of about 10,000 feet. At such temperatures, the plants have to adapt themselves in order to survive. The alpine plants are normally small in size with their leaves mostly hugging the ground for warmth. 

alpine plant, hairy, flower

The most celebrated of the alpine flowers is the ‘edelweiss’ or ‘noble white’. This yellow member of the daisy family has white, woolly petals that spread out into a star. The different shapes and sizes of the plant help them in thriving. The capacity to develop and retain warmth is one very important aspect for survival of alpine plants. The fine hairs on their body help them in accomplishing this task.


alpine plant, hairy, flower


Fine hairs coat the stems, leaves and sepals of many alpine flowers trapping heat as does the fur of a mammal and raising the plant’s temperature higher than the surrounding temperature. The hairs of some alpine plants are actually translucent at the top to allow sunlight to penetrate and dark at the base to absorb radiant heat. On some alpine plants tangled thick mass of hairs deflect wind and excessive drying, which is often a problem on mountains. In contrast, plants living in the Himalayas are subject to monsoon rains and get too much water. Their hairs help them to shed the rain.


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