Explore Growth Forms

Select a category below to learn more about the ecological role of these growth forms and browse species included in the atlas. To see a list of all species occurring in Denali, organized by growth form, download a full species list.

balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera)


The tallest and perhaps the most robust growth form, trees can live for hundreds of years. In Denali, they occupy many landscapes below 3000 ft.

Vaccinium uliginosum bog- blueberry

Shrubs & Dwarf Shrubs

Ranging from 1 inch to 8 feet tall, woody plants in Denali cannot be missed. Shrub composition plays an important part in wildlife movements.

Potentilla biflora (twoflower cinquefoil)


Forbs are a diverse group of non-woody plants, and include many of the showy wildflowers that color the landscape.

Gymnocarpium dryopteris- western oakfernFerns & Fern Allies

Vascular plants that reproduce by spores instead of flowers form this group of interesting and unique species.

Carex concinna- low northern sedge

Grasses, Sedges & Rushes

Graminoids (grasses, sedges, and rushes) are grass-like plants that often grow in meadows or other open habitats.

Hylocomium splendensMosses & Liverworts

Some of the smallest, yet ubiquitous species are the mosses and liverworts. They can be found in nearly all of Denali’s habitats.

boreal felt lichen dryLichens

Lichens are not truly plants, but rather a product of a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an algae and/or cyanobacteria.