taiga

taiga (tĪˈgə) [key], northern coniferous-forest belt of Eurasia, bordered on the north by the treeless tundra and on the south by the steppe. This vast belt, comprising about one third of the forest land of the world, extends south from the tundra to about lat. 62°N in Norway, Sweden, and Finland, but dips still farther south to about lat. 53°N in the Urals. It extends through northern European Russia across the Ural Mountains and over most of Siberia. It has a continental climate, with long, severe winters of 6 or 7 months. Thawing occurs during late April or early May, and the growing season is short. The mean average summer temperatures are fairly high, but there are night frosts. Podzols are the soils of this zone. Only the hardier cereals and roots, such as barley, oats, and potatoes, can be cultivated. The principal species of trees are cedar, pine, spruce, larch, birch, and aspen. The taiga has many swampy areas formed during the spring.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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