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Epiphytic Mosses, Sikkim

Epiphytic Mosses, Sikkim
Photo Information
Copyright: Subhash Ranjan (sranjan) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 489 W: 63 N: 1877] (5784)
Genre: Plants
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-10-22
Categories: Mountain
Camera: Olympus Sp 510uz
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2009-05-07 4:53
Viewed: 7482
Points: 16
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Unique epiphytic mosses were seen on the conifers....altitude 12,000 feet above sea level.


Biodiversity of Sikkim's Four Eco Regions
Sikkim is a land of vast variation in altitude within very short distances ranging from around 300m to 8585m. Elevation plays a prime role in fashioning the eco-regions of the state. This is evident from the presence of Sal forests in the Rangeet Valley in the south to the temperate fir forests in the north, beyond which lie the trans-Himalayas and cold desert of the Tibetan plateau. Broadly speaking there are four zones of vegetation according to altitude variations, but in some stray areas, altitude alone may not define a zone as exposure to other physical properties of the terrain can result otherwise.

This zone lies between the 300 m. low river valleys to the mid-hill heights of around 1200 m. The topographical features are deep valleys and gorges with well-drained slopes. Beneath canopies of tall evergreen and semi-deciduous trees, the dense undergrowth in this belt includes various species of orchids, Rhapidophora, wild banana, Pandanus, nettles and giant bamboo. The Rangeet Valley area has an abundance of sal forests (Shorea robusta), a magnificent timber tree remarkable for its robustness and longevity.

Sub Tropical
This region has a range from about 1800 m to 3000 m and the physical features associated with this belt are the upper portions of high hills. Rainfall is heaviest in this zone and conditions remain humid throughout the year.

The vegetation in the upper storey consists mainly of Castanopsis hystrix (chestnut), Machilus spp. (Kawla), Rhododendron spp. (Chimal), Symplocos spicata (Kholme), Symplocos theifolia (Kharane), Michelia excelsa (magnolia), Quercus lamellosa (Himalayan Oak), Quercus lineata (Phalant), Leucoseptrum canum (Ghurpis), Quercus pachyphylla (Sungure Katus), Betula alnoides (Saur), Nyssa javanica (Lekh Chilaune), Bucklandia populnea (Pipli). In the underwood, Engelhardtia spicata (Mahuwa), Eurya japonica (Jhingni), Rhododendron arboreum (Gurans) and Viburnum spp. (Asare), are the predominant species.

In the upper reaches, dense tall evergreen forests with oak and rhododendron predominate. The upper storey consists of Quercus lamellosa (Himalayan Oak), Q. lineata (Phalant), Machilus spp. (Kaula). The undergrowth consists of Arundinaria maling (dwarf bamboo), dwarf rhododendron, ferns, epiphytic moss and orchids.

Plantations of Large Cardamom beneath canopies of tall trees in forest patches, terraced farmland, and a tea estate at Temi are the dominant features of the landscape as much as the well matured exotic Cryptomeria japonica trees that were introduced to the region around a century back.

Temperate & Alpine
The region extends from 3000m to 4000m with mixed coniferous forests of hemlock, spruce, pine, fir and juniper with shrubby undergrowth of Rhododendron and dwarf bamboo. Seabuckthorn, Hippophae spp. occurs in the wild; some of which is collected for medicinal purposes and also for its use as a dye.

The Alpine forests and scrub extend up to 4,500 m with small crooked trees and large shrubs interspersed with fir and pine. The stunted forest is mainly of rhododendron of many species.

Several plants found in this region attract interest for use in traditional medicine. Dwarf rhododendron leaves are used for burning as incense. This region has a very small resident human population, mainly Bhutias and mostly pastoral, herding livestock such as yaks and dairy cattle.

This region lies between 4500 m and 5500m and is characterized by cold desert vegetation, a feature exclusively restricted to the north of Sikkim. This eco-region has not yet been included in the protected area network of the state and is perhaps the most threatened as it contains a host of endangered species. The region has a short four-month growing season during which grass, flowering plants and herbs grow abundantly supporting a host of insect fauna as well as wild and domestic herbivores, larks and finches.

Argus, CeltickRanger, eng55, eqshannon, jaycee, goldyrs, ramthakur, anel has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2009-05-07 7:28]

Hello Subhash,
A fine and interesting high-altitude habitat capture where the old pine branches are really cobvered in a species of moss rather than lichens in a nice composition against a rock-face BG.
Thanks and best regards,

hello Subhash

excellent photo of vegetations of high mountains
of your Country, excellent sharpness of the fine details,
i love the mountain's rocks background, TFS


  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2009-05-07 12:25]

Hi Subhash,
Very beautiful capture.Well seen and composed.Lightig,exposure and visual impact are wonderful.Excellent work!
Thanks for posting..

You normally do not do image such as this one...I do! And you do it just as well if not better....although filming is a subjective art form...very much. I love this one good Dr!

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2009-05-07 16:32]

Hi Subhash,

I have never seen moss like this - but I am not often 12,000 feet above sea level. I love how you composed this shot with the tree in the foreground and the rocky mountains in the background.


Hi Ranjan,
The trees frame the picture nicely, showing of the in focus tree splendidly. A fantastic composition.

These are mammoth mosses growing on this alpine tree, Subhash. We see them in our higher regions too, but they are not that big.
The picture shows the sizes and colours of these mosses in comparison with the branches of the trees, thus giving a good idea about their magnitude.
Your note on the bio-diversity of Sikkim is very informative.
Thanks and regards.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2009-05-08 4:24]

Hello Subhash,
Very interesting your posting. These epiphytic mosses give to the trees a very special and beautiful look.
You made an excellent picture of a subject which doesn't seem easy to photograph.
Thanks for this original picture

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