As the Arctic warms, vegetation is responding, and satellite measures indicate widespread greening at high latitudes. This ‘greening of the Arctic’ is among the world’s most important large-scale ecological responses to global climate change. However, a consensus is emerging that the underlying causes and future dynamics of so-called Arctic greening and browning trends are more complex, variable and inherently scale-dependent than previously thought. Here we summarize the complexities of observing and interpreting high-latitude greening to identify priorities for future research. Incorporating satellite and proximal remote sensing with in-situ data, while accounting for uncertainties and scale issues, will advance the study of past, present and future Arctic vegetation change.