Included here is the greater part of the Tibetan Plateau, bordered by the eastern Pamirs and eastern Hindo Kush Mountains to the west, the Karakorum Range and Himalayas to the south, the Bayan Khara Shan Mountains to the east and the Transalai (Zaalai) Range to the north.

Tibetan Saltmarsh

In East Ladakh, a south-westernmost extension of the Tibetan Plateau, the saltmarsh is characterised by Puccinellia himalaica and Polygonum sibiricum. This vegetation includes a range of halophilous communities developed over extensive areas including low lying plains, around salty or brackish lakes and near mineral springs. Much of the soil is sandy silt with high levels of salinity, and salt often forms a continuous crust. The soil fertility is low and the water table often reaches the surface for short periods and may create standing water in some cases. In terms of altitude, the optimal height for this vegetation is about 4500 m. However, vegetation cover can be very low (down to 20% in places) where salinity and water levels are high, but can increase to about 85% in more favourable conditions. Most of the species are salt-tolerant, hemicryptophytes but therophytes are represented by a few species such as Artemisia macrocephala and Suaeda olufsenii. Other species include Astragalus strictus, Axyris prostrata, Calamagrostis holciformis, Caragana versicolor, Carex sagaensis, Catabrosa aquatica, Chenopodium karoi, Dracocephalum heterophyllum, Elymus jacquemontii, Elymus schrenkianus, Halerpestes sarmentosa, Kobresia royleana, Kobresia schoenoides, Krascheninnikovia pungens, Leymus secalinus, Lomatogonium carinthiacum, Microgynoecium tibeticum, Oxytropis microphylla, Oxytropis tatarica, Physochlaina praealta, Poa attenuata, Potamogeton amblyphyllus, Potentilla multifida, Potentilla pamirica, Stellaria depressa, Stipa subsessiliflora and Thalictrum alpinum and the Tibetan endemics or near endemics Carex moorcroftii, Chamaerhodos sabulosa and Rhodiola tibetica.


Dvorsky, M., Dolezal, J. de Bello, F. Klimesova J. & Klimes, L. 2010. Vegetation types of East Ladakh: species and growth form composition along main environmental gradients. Applied Vegetation Science, 14: 132-147.