The soil of the taiga is similar to that of the tundra's. Because of the harsh temperatures during the winter, some parts of the taiga have permafrost, or a permanently frozen layer of soil. Water from precipitation and melting snow in warmer seasons cannot seep through the permafrost, so the taiga ground remains soft and damp in some parts. Other areas that do not have permafrost (like the Canadian shield in North America) have a layer of hard rock that remains close to the surface. Like permafrost, this dense rock prevents water from escaping the surface and, therefore, leaves the soil soggy in the spring and summer seasons.
Since coniferous trees are the dominant plant in the taiga, the soil is mainly composed of needles. These needles are very waxy and fragrant and take a long time to decompose. Due to this, soil forms very slowly in the taiga. The soil that does form, has a very high acid content. This is because the acid in conifer needles is released into the soil as they decompose. As a result, the soil is very infertile and very few plants can grow.
The uncommon soil of the taiga makes the landscape unique to the world. The taiga is dominated by only a few species of trees depending on location. In eastern Asia larches and spruce control the taiga landscape. In western North America, jackpines and spruce are common, and in eastern North America, the balsam fir is the dominating tree. These trees are accompanied by moss, bushes, and other small plants on the forest floor.
What is most exciting about the taiga's landscape is not its lack of tree variety, but the ground itself is quite amazing. This is because the ground is made up of different bog stages. One area may be a small clear water lake, while another place may be a shallow pond covered in water plants. Still another unique feature of the taiga landscape is called muskeg. Muskeg is ground covered in moss, grass, and even trees, that looks solid but actually remains at a wet and jello-like consistency. An example of muskeg is found in Manitoba, Canada in a place appropriately named the Drunken Forest. It was named this because when stepping on certain mats of moss, the trees begin to move. This happens because trees in the muskeg sometimes only have one-inch (2.5 centimeters) deep roots. Also because the ground is so saturated with water, that when the ground is disturbed, a ripple moves through the soil, and the trees move.