Plants are more scattered on the fell-fields. The distance from one green tussock to the next can be long, either because it is too dry or too windy, or because the soil is so coarse-grained that it cannot retain moisture. Nevertheless, flowers can nearly always be found if one looks for them, and there are often many species, because the competition between species is minimal. Snow whitlow-grass and Lapland diapensia are common, both with white flowers, in addition to the yellow-flowered arctic poppy and the butter-yellow snow cinquefoil with white undersides to its leaves. The small, dark head of the northern wood-rush is also frequent on the fell-fields.
Patterned ground and other interesting soil phenomena caused by frost action are common. Polygonal patterns are developed in stony soil, with the coarser grained material along the edges of the polygons and finer material in the centres. During the thaw, the centres of the polygons are soft and sticky because the melt water cannot seep down into the permanently frozen soil. Later in the summer the upper soil dries out. Plants that can survive on this type of ‘living’ soil need special abilities. For example, grained saxifrage forms scores of small leaf buds instead of flowers, which detach from the inflorescence and sprout in the soft soil.
Places where the snow remains for most of the summer are called snow-patches. Here the growing season for plants is only four to six weeks long. For the rest of the year the plants are covered by a thick, protective layer of snow. Mosses, lichens and dwarf willow are found in snow-patches. The branches of dwarf willow are often hidden in the soil, with only the leaves and inflorescence protruding above the surface. The male plants have yellow inflorescence, while those of the female plant are red. Moss heather is found in the more heath -like snow-patches. Other characteristic herbs are the annual pigmy buttercup, with small, yellow flowers, dandelion and mountain sorrel. It is possible to make a nourishing fruit soup using mountain sorrel:
"by boiling a large bunch of stems in a pot until tender, straining the juice and adding sugar to taste".