|Dead branches tend to collect around the bases of trees, and areas of forest can become too thick and dark for any smaller plants to grow. The ground is thick with fallen needles, which are tough and do not decompose easily. The cold conditions and short growing season greatly reduce the speed at which bacteria can break things down, so the soil remains poor.||
Larch tree in winter. Photo by Al Walters.
|Some boreal forest trees, such as White Spruce, Black Spruce, and Balsam Fir, have the largest ranges of any North American trees.||Trees can only access the nutrients from fallen needles with the help of fungi. Webs of these fungi surround the trees' large, shallow root networks. Extending upwards, the fungi break down the needles into chemicals that can be absorbed by trees. The fungi benefit by receiving other nutrients, which they can't create for themselves, directly from the tree roots.|
[boreal bog forest]
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