The Flowers of Kaffeklubben Island – Greenland - Atlas Obscura

The Flowers of Kaffeklubben Island

The world's northernmost flowers cling tenuously to life on desolate Kaffeklubben Island. 


On this small, glacial moraine island off the coast of Greenland’s Cape Morris Jessup, specimens of Arctic Poppy and Purple Saxifrage grow in the thin, rocky soil.

Kaffeklubben Island is practically a polar desert with roughly 30-day summers. Despite these extremely inhospitable conditions, these two tiny flowering plants eek out a meager existence and persist blooming through summer lows in the high 20’s Fahrenheit.

This area is so far north that it was out of the historical ranges of all Inuit and although spotted by Robert Edwin Peary in 1900, was left untouched by mankind until it was visited by Danish explorer Lauge Koch the 1921. On Kafeklubben Island, These scant meadows of Purple Saxifrage and Arctic Poppy (both of which are edible) grow with various mosses, liverworts, and lichens in a place that may take millennia to deposit a layer of soil a foot thick on top of the permafrost and gravel.

The tenacious purple saxifrage is not only perched on “the top of the world”, but also hold the title for being the highest elevation plant as well. It was discovered in the Swiss alps by Swiss botanist Christian Körner at an elevation of 14,780 ft. While It is not possible to visit Kaffeklubben Island unless you are part of a sponsored expedition with full equipment, both of these horticultural tough guys can be found throughout Sweden and Norway.

Know Before You Go

It is not physically possible to visit here unless you are part of a sponsored expedition with full equipment

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April 11, 2013

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