Types of Vegetations in India

Types of Vegetations in India

This article deals with ‘Types of Vegetations in India.’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • Natural vegetation refers to a plant community unaffected by man, directly or indirectly.
  • Climate, soil and landform characteristics are the important environmental controls of natural vegetation.

1. Tropical Evergreen Forest

  • Tropical Evergreen Forests are found in areas with 
    1. 200 cm or more annual rainfall
    2. Annual temperature of more than 22°C 
    3. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year.
  • These forests never shed their leaves; therefore, they are called evergreen forests.
  • The temperatures in these regions are high enough to promote constant growth, and water is always sufficient. The only physical limitation for vegetation growth is light, which sets a competition between adjacent species for light. Due to this reason, Tropical evergreen forests are dense, vertically stratified and multi-layered
    • The tallest trees, to ensure maximum sunlight goes up to the height of 60 meters and have a branched canopy. They receive maximum sunlight. 
    • Vegetation layers closer to the ground consisting of shrubs and creepers receive very low sunlight due to darkness in this area.       
  • Vegetation in this region consists of 
    • Trees: Rosewood, Mahogany, Aini, Ebony, Ironwood, Cinchona (bark used to make quinine), and Cedar (all hardwoods). Their height is up to 60 meters, and their bark is up to 5 m thick.
    • Dense undergrowth: Bamboo, Fern, Canes & Climbers 
Types of Vegetations in India
  • Though this is a hardwood type of vegetation, due to high density, lack of pure strands and swampy ground conditions, it is not easy to exploit these forests. Also, due to the lack of transportation facilities, their full economic benefits have not yet been realised.
  • They are found in 
    1. Western Ghats in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala
    2. Parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra
    3. Andaman-Nicobar Islands
    4. Plain areas of West Bengal and Odisha
    5. North-Eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya 
Tropical Evergreen Forest (Areas in India)

2. Tropical Deciduous Forest

  • Tropical Deciduous Forests develop in areas with  
    1. 70 to 200 cm annual rainfall
    2. Annual temperature of about 27°C  
    3. But there is a distinct dry and wet season.
  • The characteristic feature of the Deciduous forest: This vegetation sheds its leaves due to stress during the long dry season, which occurs at the time of low sun and cool temperatures.
Tropical Deciduous Forest
  • Vegetation in this region consists of 
    1. Teak and Sal are the most important trees.
    2. Rosewood, Kusum, Pipal, Neem, Teak, Eucalyptus, Mahua, Amla, and Tendu are also found. 
  • They are found in regions having tropical monsoon climates i.e. 
    1. Great Plains: Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal
    2. Central India: Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, 
    3. South India: Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu 
Tropical Deciduous Forest

3. Scrubs and Thorny Forests

  • Scrubs and thorny forests are found in areas with 
    1. Annual rainfall of less than 70 cm. 
    2. Annual temperature of about 27°C  
  • In such regions, Xerophytic vegetation is found, which has the following characteristic features to conserve moisture.  
    1. Long roots to extract moisture 
    2. Thick barks to store water
    3. Waxy leaves, thorns and small leaves to avoid evapotranspiration
  • Vegetation in this region consists of 
    • Trees: Kikar, Babul , Pipal, Palm, Khejri , Ber, Neem etc.
    • Xerophytes like Cactus
    • Grasses like Munj, Tussocky etc.
  • These forests are found in 
    1. West of Aravallis in Rajasthan
    2. South Punjab and South Haryana
    3. Gujarat
    4. Interior rain shadow areas of the Deccan Plateau
Scrubs and Thorny Forests

4. Mountain or Montane Forest

This type of vegetation is found in India in the Himalayas in the north and Nilgiri hills in the south. 

4.1 Himalayan Montane Forests

  • All type of vegetation available worldwide is found in the Himalayan region. The Himalayan mountains exhibit a succession of vegetation, ranging from tropical to tundra, with changes in altitude 
  • The natural vegetation found on hill slopes is affected by the difference in temperature and rainfall with increasing height. 

Upto 1000 m

  • Mixed trees of deciduous vegetation are found, like Sal and Teak.

1000 to 2500 m

  • There is a decrease in temperature and an increase in precipitation. Hence,  wet-temperate vegetation is found here, which consists of evergreen broad-leaf trees such as Deodar (highly durable wood used in construction),  Chinar and Walnut (in Kashmir and used in handicrafts) etc.

2500 to 4000 m

  • With an increase in temperature and a decrease in precipitation, this region contains Alpine vegetation and pastures. Pointed-leafed coniferous trees like pine, spruce, rhododendrons etc., are found here. 
  • Pastures of this region are used extensively by tribes like Gujjars, Bakarwals, Bhotiyas and the Gaddis.

Above 4000 m

  • These areas are above the snowline, and Tundra vegetation is found in this region, containing mosses, lichens, natural grasses and flowers. 
Himalayan Montane Forests

4.2 South Indian Montane Forests

  • These forests are found in three distinct regions of Peninsular India viz; the Vindhyas, the Western Ghats and the Nilgiri.
  • It is different from the Himalayas because 
    1. They are closer to the tropics
    2. Their height is only 3000 m above the sea level at max 

Two different types of vegetation are found in accordance with increasing height

Lower regions

  • Subtropical vegetation is found in this region

Higher regions

  • Temperate vegetation is found here.
  • In Nilgiris, Annamalai and Palani Hills, these Temperate forests are known as Sholas
  • Shola forest has a high degree of endemism, i.e. concentration of species that are not found anywhere else in the world. 
  • Shola forests on the higher reaches of the Western Ghats are like “patches of forests floating in a sea of grassland.”

5. Littoral and Swamp Forests

  • This vegetation is found in the deltaic areas of rivers like the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Krishna, Cauvery, Godavari and Mahanadi. 
Mangroves in India
  • Here, seawater at the time of tides keeps entering the deltaic areas. Due to this, the soil becomes marshy and saline, and normal vegetation can’t survive there. A special type of salt-tolerant plant called Mangroves is found here, which has adapted itself to survive in these conditions with features like 
    1. aerial roots (roots above ground for breathing)
    2. stilt roots (roots below water to hold tree against tides) and 
    3. vivipary (special technique of germination) 
  • The Sundari tree is also found in abundance. Therefore, the Ganga-Yamuna delta is known as the Sundarbans delta. Sundari tree provides valuable timber for making boats.
  • This type of vegetation is also called mangroves or Sundarbans vegetation.
Properties of Mangroves

Side Note: Importance of Mangroves

  • It provides Buffer Zone between the land and sea.
  • Mangroves protect coastal land from erosion. 
  • Mangroves serve as the natural defence against cyclones and other calamities that threaten the environment.
  • Many living species, including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and even mammals like tigers, can be found in mangroves.
  • Huge volumes of carbon dioxide are removed from the atmosphere by mangrove forests, and their preservation can help to control and combat climate change.
  • Mangroves clean the air by absorbing pollutants in the air and cleanse the water by absorbing contaminants and dangerous heavy metals.
  • Mangroves are a potential source of recreation and tourism.

Side Note: Causes of degradation of Mangroves

1. Natural Causes

  • Cyclones, typhoons, and strong wave action damage mangroves
  • Attack of insect pests such as wood borers and caterpillars (which eat the mangrove foliage and damage the wood).

2. Human Causes

  • Human Encroachment: The increasing human population in coastal areas results in increased pressure on mangrove ecosystems in many countries, including India.
  • Oil spills and other accidents: As happened recently in Sundarbans

Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC)

  • It was launched at CoP-27 (Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (2022)).
  • The initiative is led by UAE and Indonesia. India is also one of its founding members.
  • It aims to raise awareness about the potential benefits of mangroves as a climate change solution and their role in reducing global warming.

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