Subalpine zone

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The subalpine zone is the zone of plants just below tree line around the world. Species that occur in the zone vary according to where they are on the Earth. For example, Snow Gum in Australia, or Subalpine Larch, Mountain Hemlock and Subalpine Fir in western North America.

Trees in the subalpine zone often become crooked, stunted and twisted in form. At treeline, tree seedlings may germinate on the lee (sheltered) side of rocks and grow only as high as the rock shelters them from wind. Further growth is more horizontal than vertical, and additional rooting may occur where branches touch the soil. Snow cover may protect trees during the winter, but branches higher than wind-shelters or snow cover are usually destroyed. Well-established trees may be several hundred to a thousand years old.[1]

Montane grassland and shrubs may be found in the subalpine zone. Tuolumne Meadows in the Sierra Nevada of California is an example of a subalpine meadow.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Subalpine ecosystem". Rocky Mountain National Park. U.S. National Park Service.