Arctic moss is a truly amazing aquatic plant species that thrives in freezing cold temperatures, low nutrient levels, almost no sunlight, and layers of thick snow.
Arctic moss is found at the bottom of lakes and streams, covering the riverbed in almost a blanket fashion. These tough plants have small leaves, non-woody stems and do not have a proper root system.
Arctic moss have earned their place in the record books as the slowest growing (1cm per year per shoot), longest living (live up to about 7 to 10 years) freshwater plants ever.
Their slow growth is what keeps them alive, and is an adaptation to the cold temperatures and reduced nutrients of their environment. Other plants would certainly not have survived in such conditions.
New leaves sprout each spring, but until then, the existing shoots, which have likely been living for many years, store nutrients in their leaves. These plants have many leaves because the more leaves there are the more opportunities of photosynthesis.
Another reason that they grow slowly is that because of the reduced outside forces (sunlight), their enzymatic activity is also slow. This allows them to be coordinated with these factors, allowing the plant maximum advantage.
These plants are so tough that they are able to survive on less nitrogen that is usually thought necessary for underwater plant survival.
Because it has made its home underwater, arctic moss is sheltered from the dry and cold winds of the Arctic tundra, while still getting protection from the warmth of the soil.
These leafy plants do not have a systematic root system, but have rhizoids instead. These serve two essential purposes. One is that it allows the plant to suck nutrients from shallow soils and rocks and secondly is it allows the plant to hold onto rocks during windy seasons.