Despite what many may think, glacial environments host thriving communities of plant life and other organisms. Many kinds of plants have adapted to the cooler environment surrounding the glacier (such as the beautiful examples shown below), but life also thrives on top of the glacier, within the glacier, and also amazingly at the bottom of the glacier.
Join us on a tour and learn about this amazing biome.
All the images below are from plants found on the glacier or surrounding the glacier (on the glacier moraine).
The Fireweed blooms are half way up the stem right now which warns us that Summer is half over. In fact, right now the wildflowers are in full bloom at the Matanuska Glacier (all the images of flowers below are taken from around the glacier). Fireweed is one of the most common flowering plants in south-central Alaska and can be seen all around the Matanuska Glacier. Locals harvest the blooms for fireweed jelly and syrup, while local bee keepers harvest honey from bees thriving on pollen from this beautiful plant. Tea can be made from the leaves and the shoots are high in vitamins A and C when consumed as a spring vegetable.
Glacier Moss occurs in stunning patches on the Matanuska Glacier ice. Did you know that moss can survive for more than a thousand years within glacial ice under a state of slowed metabolism until exposed to sunlight when it "revives" again? On tour, we can explore this intriguing glacier moss, as well as discuss all the other different kinds of micro-organisms that live on the ice (as well as inside and under the glacier!).