Lichens are another very important plant in the alpine ecosystem. Resembling a colorful coral these plants grow on the ground as well as abundantly on trees.
Three types of lichen grow in the alpines, and each of them has a unique mechanism that ensures their survival.
These plants have a symbiotic relationship with fungus and a photosynthetic partner like green algae. However, scientists believe that even though this symbiotic relationship does exist it is of a parasitic nature, in that it destroys whatever it latches on to, although this is just a theory.
The crustose lichen as its name suggests forms a crust like covering over anything it grows on. The fruticose lichens have shrub like qualities and the foliose lichens produce leaf like lobes.
These plants are hardy and can tolerate the snow because they can survive growing beneath it. It survives like this by being able to absorb water vapor from snow and ice.
These plants have a great ability of being able to photosynthesize even in minus temperatures, where other plants either would have been unable to, or have died.
During droughts, this plant stops functioning completely. This allows it to conserve all its energy until it is safe for them to start producing food.