White mountain-avens are low, mat-forming shrubs with tough, deeply anchored roots, smooth, leathery dark green leaves, and white flowers. This is a pioneering species in areas recently exposed by retreating glaciers and in gravelly or rocky areas, such as river flats.
White mountain-avens have freely rooting, branched and intertwined stems that form a dense mat. A tough tap root helps to anchor the plant in exposed areas, and root nodules contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This plant has leathery, oblong leaves that are heart-shaped, flat or rounded at the base. The leaves have smooth edges, and they are shiny, dark green and smooth on top and white and woolly underneath. White mountain avens have white flowers that are heliotropic and face the sun as it moves across the sky.
White mountain avens are pioneering plants in areas that were recently exposed by receding glaciers. This is an arctic-alpine species that is commonly found in barren, rocky sites such as river flats and screes, slopes and ridges. It is less common in tundra and shrub heath, where it is out-competed by more aggressive tundra plants.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The Mammoths and Mastodont Project Team gratefully acknowledges their support.