Due to the difference in temperature and other weather conditions of northern and peninsular mountain ranges, there exists difference in the vegetal cover of these two groups of mountain ranges.
Hence, the mountain vegetation can be classified as the mountain vegetation of Peninsular plateau and the mountain vegetation of the Himalayan ranges.
The Mountain Vegetation of Peninsular Plateau: The high altitude area of the plateau region include Nilgiri, Annamalai and Palni hills, Mahabaleshwar in Western Ghats, Satpura and Maikal hills. The important characteristics of vegetation of this region are:
- Stretches of open rolling grass plains with undeveloped forests or bushes are found.
- The wet temperate forests below 1500 metres are less dense than those found above this height.
- The forests have thick undergrowth, epiphytes, mosses and ferns.
- Magnolia, laurel, elm are common trees.
- Cinchona and eucalyptus have been introduced from outside the country.
The Mountain Vegetation of the Himalayan Ranges: In the Himalayan mountain region, the vegetation is different at increasing altitudes. This can be divided into following types:
1. Moist Tropical Deciduous forest
Moist Tropical Deciduous forests are found along the foot hills in the Siwaliks, upto the height of 1000 metres.
2. Wet Temperate Evergreen forests
The Wet Temperate Evergreen forests are found in the areas lying between 1000 to 3000 metres. The important characteristics of these forests are:
- These are very thick forests of lofty trees.
- Oak and chestnut are the predominant trees of the eastern Himalayan region while chir and pine are in the western part.
- Sal is the important tree in lower altitudes.
- Deodar, silver fir and spruce are predominant trees between the height of 2000 and 3000 metres. These forests are less dense as compared to the forests at lesser elevations.
- These forests are of great economic importance to the local population.
3. Dry Temperate Vegetation
Dry Temperate Vegetation is found on the higher hilly slopes of this mountain region which has moderate temperatures and rainfall between 70 cm and 100 cm. Important characteristics of this type of vegetation are:
- This vegetation resembles the Mediterranean vegetation.
- Wild olives, acacia are important trees along with hard, coarse and thick savanna grass.
- Oak and deodar are found here and there.
4. Alpine Vegetation
Alpine Vegetation is found between the altitude 3000 and 4000 metres. The important characteristics of these forests are:
- These are far less dense.
- Silver fir, juniper, birch, pine and rhododendron are important trees of these forests. However, all of them have only a stunted growth.
- Alpine pastures are found at still higher altitudes.
- The trees get progressively stunted as they approach the snow line.