[VEGETATION OF ASIA

]

July 27, 2010

VEGETATION of ASIA
By Marie Sachie Mitsui P. VEGETATION Turiano  the plant life or the plant ground cover of a region, not the particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics.  Primeval redwood forests, coastal mangrove stands, sphagnum bogs, desert soil crusts, roadside weed patches, wheat fields, cultivated gardens and lawns; all are encompassed by the term vegetation. FACTS ON ASIA S VEGETATION  Asian plants, which include ferns, gymnosperms, and flowering vascular plants, make up 40 percent of the earth's plant species. The endemic plant species come from more than forty plant families and fifteen hundred genera.  Asia is divided into five major vegetation regions based on the richness and types of each region's flora: tropical rain forests in Southeast Asia, temperate mixed forests in East Asia, tropical rain dry forests in South Asia, desert and steppe in Central and West Asia, and taiga and tundra in North Asia. GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL ZONES OF ASIA
Global Ecological Zone Surface area Km2 Tropical rain forest Tropical moist deciduous forest Tropical dry forest Tropical shrubland Tropical desert Tropical mountain systems Subtropical humid forest Subtropical dry forest Subtropical steppe Subtropical desert Subtropical mountain systems Temperate oceanic forest Temperate continental forest Temperate steppe Temperate desert Temperate mountain systems Boreal coniferous forest Boreal tundra woodland Boreal mountain systems 3 009 375 1 379 477 1 426 603 1 167 107 2 704 536 834 931 2 047 862 129 040 1 180 330 1 446 347 3 459 622 0 1 253 135 1 115 606 2 181 946 3 604 836 157 450 0 109 168 % of total land area Region 11.1 5.1 5.2 4.3 9.9 3.1 7.5 0.5 4.3 5.3 12.7 0 4.6 4.1 8.0 13.2 0.6 0 0.4 % of GEZ worldtotal 20.6 12.5 19.1 14.0 23.4 18.5 43.7 8.1 2.4 21.7 71.2 0 18.0 18.9 40.4 49.9 1.9 0 1.7

By Marie Sachie Mitsui P. Turiano | AB Economics III

1

Introduction to Asian Civilization

[VEGETATION OF ASIA]
Total land area 27 207 371 99.9

July 27, 2010

MAJOR VEGETATION REGIONS BASED ON THE RICHNESS AND TYPES OF EACH REGION'S FLORA  Tropical Rainforest  The Asian regions richest in flora, tropical rain forests, are found in the island nations of Southeast Asia, which extend from Kinabalu in the north to Java in the south and from New Guinea in the east to Sumatra in the west. In this vast archipelago, the longest island chain between Asia and Australia, are thirty-five thousand to forty thousand vascular plant species. Tropical rain forests grow there year-round because of the region's warm temperatures and plentiful rainfall. The forests contain great varieties of tall trees, some towering 148 feet (45 meters) high. Within any 1-square-mile area, one can see as many as one hundred tree species with no single species dominant.  The rain forests have mostly broad leafed ever greens, with some palm trees and tree ferns. The uppermost branches of the trees form canopies that cover and protect the earth below. Because little sunlight penetrates the dense canopies, few shrubs or herbs grow in the rain forests. Instead, many vines, lianas, epiphytes, andparasites are twined on tree branches and trunks. Mangroves fringe the tropical rain forests along the coasts. The prevailing vegetation type is dense moist evergreen forest. Floristic variations exist, depending on the location. The most striking difference is the occurrence of Dipterocarpaceae, an important Asian endemic family, to the west of the Wallace s line, whereas they are totally absent to the east of this line. As these forests grow in lowlands, they are under greatest pressure for timber exploitation and conversion to agricultural land. The Sundarbans mangrove forests of the Ganges Delta and those of western New Guinea are by far the most extensive in the world. In the drier parts of the area, mainly in eastern Indonesia and the Himalayas foothill, semi-deciduous or moist deciduous forests occur; especially in the Brahmaputra valley, they are valuable Sal forests (Shorea robusta). Some more remarkable plants are blooms, carnivorous pitcher plants, and Rafflesia flowers - the world's largest flowers, which are endemic to Asia.   

Temperate Mixed Forests  Second in floral richness, East Asia's temperate mixed forests contain thirty thousand to thirty-five thousand plant species. This region ranges from Japan in the east to the Himalayan nations (Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal) in the west, and from Russia's Amur River Valley in the north to China's Hainan Island in the south. East Asia's temperate weather is similar to the climate of eastern North America, with hot summers and cool winters. From south to north and from the east coasts to lower elevations in mountainous areas in the west, the vegetation changes from evergreen to deciduous broad-leafed forests, with dense shrubs, bamboo, and herbs in different layers beneath the forest canopy. The major tree species are of the magnolia, oak, tea, laurel, spurge, azalea, and maple families. Herbs include members of the primrose, gentian, pea, carrot, foxglove, composite, buttercup, and rose families.

By Marie Sachie Mitsui P. Turiano | AB Economics III

2

Introduction to Asian Civilization

[VEGETATION OF ASIA] 

July 27, 2010

The Himalayan range is the point where the regions of South Asia, East Asia, and Central and West Asia join. From the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwest China to the lower areas of the Himalayas, elevation usually is between about 5,000 and 13,000 feet (1,500 and 4,000 meters). Mountains with deep valleys showcase complex, multiple vegetation types from mixed forests and dense shrubs to alpine meadows in mountain plains. Many primary seed plants (gymnosperms and flowering plants), grow there. Untouched native vegetation in East Asia is usually found only in mountainous or remote areas. On mountains at high elevations, the points where the temperatures are so cold that trees cannot grow form what is called the tree line. Near the tree line, only plants related to coniferous and alpine species grow. Above about 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) in high mountain areas, no vegetation grows. Instead, snowcaps or icebergs exist year round. Tropical moist deciduous forest (TAwa)  Due to the dry season, the natural vegetation is nearly everywhere a deciduous or semi-deciduous forest. This forest type is in Asia commonly known as monsoon forest. Its flora varies according to the region and the actual leafless period varies between species. On average, moist deciduous forests are leafless for at least 8 weeks in February and March. Many dominant trees belong to the Leguminosae, Combretaceae, Meliaceae or Verbenaceae. Dipterocarps are also present, but less conspicuous as in the rain forest. The forest is 20 to 25 m tall and a sparse grass cover is usually present.  Plant Species Eg. Is the Asian Ginseng (medicinal)  

Tropical Rain/Dry Mixed Forests  The third-richest region, tropical rain/dry forests, is found in South Asia, which reaches from the Philippines in the east to Pakistan in the west, and from the Himalayas in the north to Thailand in the south. Twenty five thousand to thirty thousand species of plants grow there. This region has both tropical rain forests and tropical seasonal dry forests. The tropical rain forest is mainly found in the region's lowlands and the seasonal dry forests in the highlands or mountainous areas. More often, these two types of forests are combined.  The tropical seasonal dry forests usually grow in a climate with wet and dry seasons or under a somewhat cooler climate than the tropical rainforests. The canopy, formed from primarily deciduous broad leafed species, is much thinner than the canopy in the tropical rain forest, so more sunlight reaches plants below. Many different plant species live together, forming tropical jungles. Tall, thick-trunked trees, colorful orchids, ferns, dense mosses, and twined vines and lianas dominate this vast region. The major components of these kinds of forests are members of the dipterocarpas, sweetsop, laurel, piper, fig, dissotis, akee, gardenia, periwinkle, milkweed, African violet, palm, and aroid families. In central and southern India and in some areas of Pakistan there are tropical grasslands, called the savanna. Because of the savanna's hot, dry weather, mainly coarse grasses grow there. Tropical Dry Forest  A complex of vegetation types are found in this Ecological Zone. Dry evergreen forest occurs on the dry eastern Coromandel Coast of India
By Marie Sachie Mitsui P. Turiano | AB Economics III

3

Introduction to Asian Civilization

[VEGETATION OF ASIA]

July 27, 2010

and in north Sri Lanka. This very peculiar and vestigial plant community is unknown elsewhere in Asia and is limited to a small area. Today, most of these forests have been cleared for agriculture and locally replaced by Casuarina equisetifolia and Eucalyptus plantations. The ecologically decisive factors include the rainfall regime with well-marked maxima in October, November or December and a summer of 5 7 dry months. This rainfall pattern is uncommon in the tropics. The natural vegetation is a stunted woody formation with a peculiar floristic composition, including Manilkara hexandra, Chloroxylon swietenia, Albizia amara and Capparis zeylanica. The total flora is poor.  Plant Species Eg. Is the Shorea obtuse - Fruit with long wings developed from persistant calyx  Desert and Steppe  The desert and steppe region in Central and West Asia has twenty to twenty-five thousand species of plants. This region stretches from north and northwest China and Mongolia in the east to Turkey in the west and from Kazakhstan in the north to the Arabian Peninsula in the south. This region's vegetation changes from semi desert or desert to the temperate grassland called the steppe.  Central and West Asia contains the largest desert steppe landscape in the Northern Hemisphere. Few plant species grow in the steppe and nearly none in the desert. The herbs and few woody plants that grow in these dry areas are members of the grass, pink, mustard, pea, saxifrage, stonecrops, lignum vitae, forget-me-not, and lily families. Because the desert environment is so dry, plant species must be able to survive in the arid weather for long periods of time. Central and West Asia with its steppe between the desert in the south and coniferous forests in the north forms one of the world's largest foraging areas, providing food resources for both wild and domestic animals, such as camels, sheep, goats, cows, and horses. Tropical Desert  In some places, between the dunes, a pseudo-steppic vegetation may occur. Sandy or rocky deserts are extensive.  The boundary of the Tropical desert in the Arabian Peninsula is based on the presence of tropical plants (south of this line) belonging to the Sudanian Region. The sparse vegetation consists of perennial shrubs, bushes, succulents and grasses. Acacia flora is the indicator of the region with plants like Balanites, Abutilon, Haloxylon, Retametalia, Eremopogon, Trichodesma, Cucumis, Cenchrus, Cyperus, Tribulus, Maerua, Boscia, Tephrosia, Rynchosia, Periploca, Pergularia. Thorny thickets of Acacia tortilis and Maerua crassifolia characterize the foothills. Panicum turgidum, Lasiurus hirsutus are found in sandy plains, Yemen and the Hadramut.  Plant Species Eg. Is the Periploca 

By Marie Sachie Mitsui P. Turiano | AB Economics III

4

Introduction to Asian Civilization

[VEGETATION OF ASIA]

July 27, 2010 

Taiga and Tundra  The poorest region in floral richness, with only about five thousand vascular plant species, is North Asia. This region is primarily Siberia, the eastern part of Russia, reaching from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Bering Strait in the east and from the Arctic Circle in the north to Mongolia and Kazakhstan in the south. The region's weather is temperate, with short, mild summers and long, cold winters. The predominant vegetation in North Asia is coniferous (boreal) forest. This region, called the taiga, contains mainly pine, spruce, fir, larch, and some species in the birch, aspen, and willow families. Because the trees there are straight and tall, the taiga provides timber for Russia's forestry industry. Small, perennial herbs and a few types of shrubs grow in the taiga's swamps or marshes.  Farther north is the cooler Arctic area called the tundra. Plants that grow in tundra are resistant to the cold climate. During the summer they complete their life cycle quickly, before winter comes. Tundra plant species are members of such common families as composites, peas, grasses, and reeds. Far beyond the tundra is Arctic ice. Asia's native plant species provide shelter and food for animals. For example, arrow bamboo and umbrella bamboo, found in the forests of central to southwest China, are the main food of the giant panda. Many plants in Asia also provide food, ornaments, or medicine for humans. 

By Marie Sachie Mitsui P. Turiano | AB Economics III

5

Introduction to Asian Civilization

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