Flora in Mount Kilimanjaro
There are five major zones of fauna and
flora, which are associated with specific altitude levels, and all have distinct characteristics. Due to
the fact that the temperature falls about 1°C for every 200m and rainfall also decreases with an increase
in altitude these zones are spaced at about 1000m intervals and there is a distinct cross over from one
zone to the next. This band of vegetation completely
surrounds the mountain and extends from 1800m to 2800m. It is the area that receives the most rainfall,
which is about 2000mm a year and supports the greatest amount of life. Some of the more prolific trees
are camphor, podocarpus, fig and other large trees. The undergrowth contains many giant ferns and
Usnea (old man’s beard), as well as flowers such as impatiens, with their typical pitcher shape.
Kilimanjaro is unique in that there is no bamboo zone at the end of the forest, as is the case
with most other African mountains. This is probably due to the fact that Kilimanjaro is the
driest of these mountains and the transition from forest to heath is strikingly sudden.
Above the forest belt the porous soils and lower rainfall result in much sparser vegetation with
semi-desert conditions prevailing above 4000m. The lower slopes are heavily
cultivated, in particular those to the south which receive plenty of rainfall.