Included here is the mountain range that runs along the western side of India and separates the Deccan Plateau from a narrow coastal plain (Malabar Coast) along the Arabian Sea.

Western Ghats Montane Thicket

In the montane zones of the Nilgiris and Palni hills are stands of thicket reaching heights of 8-10 m. The upper storey is usually dominated by Syzygium calophyllifolium while other common species include Elaeocarpus recurvatus, Ilex denticulata, Isonandra condolleana, Melicope indica, Microtropis microcarpa, Rapanea wrightiana, Symplocos obtusa, Syzygium montanum and Turpinia cochinchinensis. Occasional upper storey species include the endemic Cryptocaria lawsonii (Lauraceae) and Michelia nilagirica (Magnoliaceae). A lower story is typically dominated by Euonymus crenulatus, Lasianthus capitulatus and Psychotria elongata, but the ground layer is usually species-poor. Among the many epiphytes are Aerides ringens, Eria nana, Oberonia brunoniana, Peperomia reflexa together with the fern Asplenium fulcatum and the lycopod Lycopodium hamiltonii. Lianas, on the other hand, are few in number, but notable species include Clematis theobromina, Gardneria ovata, Gymnema montanum and Piper schmidtii. Thickets in the Nilgiris Hills support a greater number of local endemics compared with the Palni Hills. The few associated with the latter include the ligneous Actinodaphne bourneae (Lauraceae), Elaeocarpus blascoi, E. gausseni (Elaeocarpaceae) and Pittosporum undulatum (Pittosporaceae).

Western Ghats Grasslands

These grasslands are largely found at altitudes above 1500 m and often take the form shrub-savanna characterized by shrubby and herbaceous species mixed with grasses. Above 1800 m the minimum temperature can drop to below zero degrees centigrade during the colder months. Here in Anamalai region (Eravikulam and Munnar) the grass layer is usually less than 1 m and mainly represented by Andropogon foulkesii, Anthistiria ciliata, Arundinaria villosa, Bothriochloa pertusa, Chrysopogon orientalis, Eragrostis nigra, Heteropogon contortus, Tripogon bromoides, Zenkeria elegans and species of Arundinella, Cymbopogon, Eulalia, Isachne and Themeda. Common herbaceous species include Campanula fulgens, Crotalaria notonii, Indigofera pedicellata, Justicia simplex, Knoxia mollis, Leucas suffruticosa, Lilium neilgherrense, Oldenlandia articularis Polygala sibirica, Striga asiatica, Viola patrinii and Wahlenbergia gracilis, but in the more swampy areas species such as Centella asiatica, Drosera peltata and Fimbristylis uliginosa predominate. Typical shrubby elements are Berberis tinctoria, Gaultheria frangrantissima, Hypericum mysorense, Lobelia excelsa, Oldenlandia stylosa, Osbeckia wightianum, Pteridium aquiilnum, Rubus fairholmianus, Phlebophyllum kunthianus and the endemic Rhododendron arboreum var. nilagiricum may occur in the form of small tree. Grasslands below 1800 m that are mainly interspersed with evergreen forests often characterized by Briedelia crenulata, Careya arborea, Emblica officinalis, Terminalia chebula and Wendlandia thrysoidea.  The grasses here are usually tall reaching heights of up to 1.5 m.  Common taxa include Agrostis peninsularis, Androprogon lividus, Arundinella purpurea, Chrysopogon zeylanicus, Eulalia phaeothrix, Heteropogon contortus, Ischaemum indicum, Sehima nervosum, Tripogon bromoides and species of Eulalia and Themeda. Intermixed with the grasses are shrubs such as the monocarpic Phlebophyllum kunthianum and herbs of the genera Crotalaria, Desmodium, Hypericum, Knoxia, Leucas, Lobelia and Osbeckia.


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