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Mountain Trees

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On mountains, depending on the altitude, one encounters different plants. This is because the climatic conditions are different at different altitudes, impacting plants growing there. At higher altitudes, plants have to face up with cold, wind, unstable soil and too much or too little water. Lower down, trees are broad-leaved but as we go higher, we find coniferous trees. Climbing higher, we encounter the last of trees that are stunted and wind bent. Beyond the tree line, we can find very small plants and grass. Even higher, we enter the realm of permanent snow and no plant life is possible there.

In the Himalayas, the vegetation ranges from deciduous forests, coniferous forests, to alpine meadows. Lower down on the foothills or up to about 2000 m, trees are broad-leaved and are similar to those we find in the plains. Beyond the tree-line, we encounter plants that are short and with a dense growth. Dwarf plants and more particularly plants that give a cushion-like appearance have adapted themselves to counter wind and cold. Just as a grove of forest trees can somewhat dissipate the force of a chilling wind, so can the closely matted stalks. It is a miniature forest in itself, hugging the ground as an inconspicuous dome below the cold winds whistling by overhead. The importance of lowness cannot be over-estimated. A man standing on an exposed mountain slope may be blown over by the wind. If we sit down we notice that its force has considerably abated. If we lie down with our face to the ground, we will be astonished to discover that the wind blowing past our cheeks seems to have virtually disappeared.

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