September 29, 2016

Image of the Week: Krummholz Tree Growth

by Eric Dillalogue

If you’ve ever hiked up a mountain to the tree line or explored the subarctic regions of the world, you’ve likely seen trees with serious deformations. Some trees are stunted, gnarled masses of branches close to the ground; other trees are “flag” or “banner” trees with branches missing entirely from one side. Below is an image of the flag variety, where strong, constant winds kill off branches on the windward side and create a profile similar to a flag.

Krummholz tree
A windswept tree in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. ©John Spooner

These are called Krummholz tree formations, from the German word for crooked or bent, krumm, and the word for wood, holz. Plants that live in the harsh environments of the subalpine and subarctic regions adapt to their surroundings by growing horizontally near the ground and behind rocks or, if they grow vertically, losing their branches on the windswept side.

To learn more about Krummholz formations, see the following pages:

Eric Dillalogue

Written by

Eric Dillalogue holds a MS in Library and Information Science and a BA in English. He has worked in a variety of roles from service industry management, academic libraries, and grant administration. He has taught courses on information literacy, web research, and developmental reading. Eric joined the Visionlearning team as a project manager in 2014.

Science In Your Inbox