Flora of India comprises a wide variety of indigenous or native plant types. It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 species of plants. The rich floral diversity of India is undoubtedly due to the great variety of climatic and altitudinal variations, together with the variety of ecological habitats.
India has areas with almost no rain, as well as the area that receives the highest rainfall in the world. The altitude varies from sea level to high mountain ranges.
Habitat types range from the humid tropical Western Ghats to the Thar Desert of Rajasthan and from the cold desert of Ladakh and the icy mountains of the Himalayas to the long, hot coasts of peninsular India.
This extreme diversity has given rise to an exuberant and varied flora and fauna in India.
Distribution of the flora of India
In terms of physical geography, mainland India can be divided into six distinct regions, namely the Himalayas, the Indogenous Plain and Peninsular India, the Thar Desert, the Coastal Plains and the Indian Islands.
Different types of flora are present in these regions. The physiographic divisions of India and the flora in these divisions are described below.
The Himalayas form a mountain range across the far north of India. It extends in an east-west direction for a length of about 2,400 km. Its width varies between 400 kilometers to the west and 150 kilometers to the east. It occupies an area of about 500,000 square kilometers in India.
Geographically, the Himalayas range from the low plains of India to India’s highest peak, Kanchenjunga in Sikkim. In the Himalayan region, the natural vegetation varies with altitude. The inner Himalayas are rich in chilgoza, oak, maple and ash.
Oaks, laurels, maples, rhododendrons, etc. are found in the eastern Himalayan region. The western Himalayas have conifers such as pine. In the northwestern Himalayas the chir pine is known to grow (except in Kashmir). Deciduous trees, shrubs, ferns and grass can be found in the foothills of the Himalayas.
The Indogentic plain stretching from the Punjab to Assam is composed of alluvial lowlands parallel to the southern Himalayas. This region is very productive from an agricultural point of view and is used for crops such as wheat and rice.
Some of the floral species of this region are soap pod, neem, golden leather grass, mangrove fern, common turmeric, mahua, Indian sandalwood, white sandalwood, and ashoka.
Comprising the Central Highlands, the Deccan Plateau, the Eastern Ghats, and the Western Ghats, Peninsular India lies south of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, both roughly separated by the Tropic of Cancer. Along the Western Ghats, there are deciduous forests.
In the interior of the Deccan Plateau are tropical dry forests and shrublands. Southwest Ghats montane moist forests are present in the South Ghats at higher elevations. On the dry plateau of Telengana, there are thorny thickets and wild Indian date palms.
The Thar desert is located in northwestern India. The sweltering heat of the sun in this region is responsible for the short, stocky, underdeveloped trees. Here is the thorny forest of the northwest.
Some of the floral species of the Thar Desert are Acacia Jacquemontii, Euphorbia Neriifolia, Balanites Roxburghii, Ochthochloa Compressa and Ziziphus Zizyphus.
The coastal plains are situated to the east and west of the peninsular plateau of India. The coastal plains are divided into the western coastal plain and the eastern coastal plain.
The width of the western coastal plain ranges from 10 to 15 km, while the width of the eastern coastal plain ranges from 50 to 60 km. The humid forests of the Malabar coast, the mangroves, etc. embellish the coastal plains of India.
In the islands
There are about 1,208 Indian islands. India’s main island groups are the Laccadive Islands archipelago in the Arabian Sea and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
The flora of Lakshadweep is composed of coconut palm, banana, species such as Scaevola Koenigii, Calophyllum Inophyllum, etc. The flora of the Andaman Islands consists of moist deciduous forests, woody climbers, mangroves, timber, etc.
When most people think of Indian animals, the Bengal tiger is usually the first species that comes to mind. And with good reason: The subcontinent is home to more than half of the world’s wild tigers, with a thriving population in nearly 50 tiger reserves.
But the national animal of India is not the only endemic species of the Indian fauna. In fact, India is home to approximately 7.6% of the world’s mammal species, 12.6% of its bird species, and 6.2% of its reptiles.
Protected by more than 120 national parks, 18 biosphere reserves and more than 500 wildlife sanctuaries, the animals of India are vast and varied. It is the only country in the world where there is a relatively good chance of seeing (Asian) lions, (Bengal and Indochinese) tigers and (sloth) bears.
Other iconic species of wildlife in India include Asian elephants, snow leopards, clouded leopards, the great Indian rhinoceros, deer (including Barasingha, Chital and Hangul), the Dhole (also known as the Indian wild dog), and endemic species. like the Nigiri leaf monkey.
Although most wild lions live in Africa, India is home to the last population of Asiatic lions. These Indian big cats live in the Gir forest in Gujarat, located in western India. Like other lion species, Asiatic lions live in prides. But they are smaller than the African variety, weighing around 135-230 kgs.
With a total population of around 500 individuals, the slightly different traits of these lions may be the result of inbreeding. But wildlife conservation in India has helped increase the population to the point that many lions now live outside the Gir protected area.
As one of the five remaining species of tiger, Bengal tigers make up about half of all wild tigers. Tigers are the largest cats in India, and Bengals can weigh between 110 and 230 kg. There are about 2,500 of these tigers today, which can be found in different types of forests.
They spend most of their time alone, hunting medium-sized mammals in India, such as deer and wild boar, early in the morning or late at night, while resting during the day.
Deforestation and poaching have caused a dramatic decline in the population of these tigers in recent decades. But conservation efforts are working to strengthen the Bengal tigers’ environment and crack down on poaching.
Found primarily in trees, Indian leopards are distinguished from other leopards by their larger spots (or rosettes) and coat colors, which vary depending on their habitat. The rosettes, like the stripes on a tiger, are different for each animal, and no two markings are exactly alike.
These leopards are solitary animals that come out of the trees only to hunt different varieties of deer, sambar and langur monkeys.
Their hunting style is based on their strong jaw muscles. And, unlike other predators, they are known to bring their prey up into the trees with them. Along with their treetop homes, Indian leopards are fond of swimming and sunbathing.
With thick, long fur, Snow Leopards are found in the Himalayan mountains of northern India. These cats have light gray fur to camouflage them in the snow and keep them warm in the cold.
Their large paws also keep them agile on the thick snow of the mountains. As they live in the mountains, these solitary cats feed on different species of mountain sheep. These leopards are also distinguished by their more passive nature, as they have not been observed to be aggressive towards people.
This attitude is highlighted by their inability to roar due to the anatomy of their throats, which makes them appear to be a less intimidating variety of leopard.
Large spots, short legs, and a large head distinguish the clouded leopard from other panther species. Clouded leopards come in two subspecies, one of which is found in the forests of Southeast Asia and the other on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
Like other panthers, they live in trees and feed on mammals such as monkeys. But their larger heads and teeth separate them. Their short, powerful legs also help these Indian animals to climb and hunt.
These cats are also slightly smaller than other panthers, weighing just 23kg. But they more than make up for it with their impressive strength. The mighty clouded leopard has even been known to hang upside down from tree branches, making the most of its strong legs.
Indian spotted eagle
Resident in northern India, the Indian spotted eagle has brown feathers with lighter spots that give the bird its name. These birds of prey live in forests, where they hunt mammals, amphibians, and smaller birds.
Its color is lighter than that of other species of spotted eagles. They are also distinguished from other spotted eagles by their mouths and eyes. The Indian spotted eagle’s mouth is the widest of its related species, and its eyes are darker than others.
This eagle has a strange call that is commonly described as a high-pitched cackling sound. And they prefer to reside in forest areas rather than wetlands.
Great horned hornbill
The Great Horned Hornbill is easily identifiable by a bright yellow feature that resembles a horizontal banana. This feature, called a cascade, is found on the bird’s upper bill, but it has not been observed to serve a specific role in the bird’s behavior.
They feed on fruit (which also provides them with all the water they need), along with small mammals and other small birds. Using their bright yellow bills, the great Indian hornbill eats its prey in an unusual way: tossing it up into the air after capturing it, then swallowing it whole. In India, the bird is found in both the Himalayas and the Western Ghats.
The redstart monal resides in the Himalayas, north of India. Like peacocks, the males have brilliant plumage, with feathers in different shades of blue, green, red, and purple. This led to the species’ nickname, “the nine-colored bird.” Female Red-tailed Monals, on the other hand, are light brown in color with interspersed black feathers, similar to those of peacocks.
These birds use their beaks to feed on insects by digging them up from the ground. Because of its cold, mountainous environment, the redstart monal is well equipped to dig in the snow when searching for food.
The Indian peacock is one of the most striking birds in the world and is the national bird of India. Male peacocks are noted for their glorious blue and green feathers, as well as the mating dance they use to attract females. The females are brown, and the males use their bright color to attract more modest-looking females.
The peacock’s long, distinctive feathers are often called a tail, but they are actually a “train” made of feathers that cover the base of the tail (called wingtips).
Although the males are conspicuous in appearance, they are able to evade predators that grab onto their feathers by flying, with the feather easily detaching from their body.
Named for Elizabeth Gould, the wife of noted English ornithologist John Gould, Gould’s suimangas are known for their colorful beauty. These live birds are all primary colors, with a red back, a yellow stomach, and a small blue spot on the face. They feed on insects and nectar and reside in tropical forest habitats.
Gould’s suimangas are most readily found in East and Southeast Asia, in countries such as Bhutan and Nepal. They are quite uncommon in India, but have been seen in the eastern part of the country. Fortunately, these pretty birds have a stable population, and are of least concern in terms of conservation status.
Although small in size, the Eastern Kingfisher is a skilled predator that is not to be messed with. These birds are only 13 cm long. However, they do feed on a variety of small amphibians and reptiles by hovering over bodies of water and quickly diving in search of their prey.
Water sources are important to this bird as they like to live near small streams in the forest. The Eastern Dwarf Kingfisher is also notable for its bright orange bill and legs, along with multi-colored feathers of yellow, orange, blue, and pink.
Found in northern and central India, the sarus crane is the tallest flying bird in the world (at a height that can reach up to 1.80 meters). These tall birds stand out, not only for their height, but also for their red heads and legs and their legs resting on gray bodies.
Sarus cranes live in small groups in the humid areas of northwestern India. They feed on plants and insects near water, even in agricultural areas. Of all the crane species in the world, the sarus crane is possibly the least social. They are known for being territorial and sometimes aggressive.
One of two species of elephant in the world, the Asian elephant is smaller than the African elephant. Their ears are smaller and rounder than those of the African elephant, and female (as well as some male) Asian elephants do not have tusks.
These elephants are generally found in forests and grassy areas. They communicate with each other over distances of up to 2 miles by making very low rumble sounds.
An especially notable feature of elephants is their trunk, which has a finger-like attachment at the end that allows them to grasp objects, drink water, and communicate. With strong emotional ties rooted in Hinduism, Asian elephants also hold great significance in traditional Indian culture.
They live in North and Central India. These deer have golden hairs, but can be difficult to see in the wild. The Duvaucel deer is also known as the barasinga. Like other deer, the barasinga grazes on grass and plants that grow near water throughout the day.
Unfortunately, their preferred habitats are in trouble due to conversion to farmland or deforestation. But they can be found in various national parks in India.
Found in northern India, the Indian rhinoceros has a horn that is 20-63 cm long and dark in color. The rest of their bodies are gray, with layers of skin that look like armor.
Their skin is tough but flexible, which helps these large mammals to move. Despite their weight of around 2.2 tons, these rhinos can run at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour when provoked.
Although large in size, these animals graze on grasses, leaves, and fruit found in their homes in grassy and forested areas. Unfortunately, it is one of the most endangered Indian animals.
Langur monkeys come in several varieties, and can be found throughout South and Southeast Asia. They dine on leaves, fruit, and tree bark, and their complex stomachs and digestive systems make these monkeys slightly pot-bellied.
Unlike many other monkeys, langurs do not use their long tails to grasp objects. But they are used for balance and sometimes for communication.
They spend most of their time high up in trees and rarely come down to the ground. When they do, at least one monkey stays in the trees to keep an eye out for potential predators (such as tigers) while the other monkeys are drinking water.
Lion tailed macaque
Lion-tailed macaques can only be found living in the tropical forests of the Western Ghats of India. These monkeys have black fur all over their bodies, but their tails are bare except for a ball of fur on the tip that looks like a pom-pom. Lion-tailed macaques rely heavily on oral communication and have 17 vocal patterns.
They are also noted for their large cheeks, which can hold large amounts of food (such as fruit, flowers, and the occasional lizard) to quickly escape predators they encounter while feeding. Their cheeks can store the same amount of food as their stomachs, which makes for a very interesting sight.
Found in the holy river Ganges, this river dolphin is the national aquatic animal of India and one of the oldest species known today. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most endangered Indian animals on this list. The Ganges river dolphin is greyish-brown in color, females have longer snouts than males, and may travel alone or in small groups.
Due to the severe pollution of the Ganges River, these dolphins and their prey are in danger because they inevitably ingest chemicals from all the toxic substances in the water. These dolphins only live in freshwater environments, and due to poor vision they swim sideways and have a greater hearing capacity.
They use echolocation for hunting, and are carnivores that feed on fish and aquatic plants when necessary.
Indian wild dog
About the same size as a German Shepherd, the Indian Wild Dog (Coon) is a maverick in the dog world. With one less molar on each side of its mouth and a tail more like a fox’s, dwarfs stand out from other animals their size.
These Indian wild dogs are known for their speed both on land and in the water, which helps in hunting larger prey such as deer and buffalo. These dogs are also distinguished by their communication style, which consists of hissing between the pack.
Since they are capable of feeding on much larger animals, the biggest threat to the dwarf is humans, habitat loss, and diseases from domestic dogs. Fortunately, numerous conservation NGOs are working to save this rare Indian animal.
Identified by their shaggy black coats, sloth bears can be found in the forests of India. These noisy, solitary bears feed primarily on termites, ants, and fruit, using their long paws and claws to dig termites out of the ground. Because they are missing their two front teeth, the bears consume the termites by sucking them up through the hole.
Sloth bears are unusual for a few reasons: Unlike most other bears, they don’t hibernate. Their shaggy coat serves an odd purpose, as the extra hair on their backs is used to carry young sloth bears up to 6-9 months of age. Sloth bears are the only bears that carry their young in this way.
Sometimes mistaken for a fox due to its small size, the Indian wolf can be found in open areas of India. They weigh around 18-27 kg and are around 60-90 cm long. These wolves are distinguished from other wolves for other reasons as well, including their infrequent howls, mating time in October, and their short, dense fur.
Their lack of howling is sometimes attributed to wolves being less territorial than most wolf species, and their short hair is useful in the hot environment of the Indian wolf.
These little wolves feed on small mammals such as rabbits and rodents. Sadly, these beautiful Indian animals are increasingly threatened due to habitat loss and human conflict.
With a distinctive design on their hood that resembles a mouse or glasses, Indian cobras are large Indian snakes found in most habitats other than deserts. When threatened, these snakes raise their hoods and stretch their necks upward, displaying the hood marking.
These snakes feed on reptiles and rodents, always swallowing them whole, but they also feed on other venomous snakes. Its venom is very powerful, and can paralyze or even kill its victims, including humans.
In search of food, Indian cobras sometimes roam human-populated areas such as farms, villages, or even buildings. This can occasionally lead to humans being bitten.
Known by many names, this green pit viper can be found in the jungles of southern India. Their bright green color helps camouflage them from predators in the forest. The fangs of these snakes are a unique feature: they are hollow and can grow back if they fall off.
These snakes live high in trees and hunt at night, feeding on birds, lizards, and occasionally rodents. They often prefer to rest in the shade of bamboo and other thick trees rather than along the water.
Spending most of their days foraging for food, Bengal monitors are found in various habitats throughout India. Unlike other similar species of lizards, Bengal monitor lizards are more adaptable to different climates and can live in areas with high and low levels of precipitation.
Their tongues resemble those of snakes, with a fork in the center that helps them find food. Their prey range from small mammals and birds to other reptiles.
Bengal monitors are also exceptionally strong. They tend to burrow into the ground when escaping from predators. To stay safe, they fill their lungs with air and sink their claws into the hiding place, making them virtually impossible to dislodge.
The Indian chameleon is similar to other chameleons in its physical characteristics. Like monkeys, they have prehensile tails that help them keep their balance and stay comfortably in the trees. Like other chameleons, the Indian variety changes color for communication purposes.
Their large eyes can move in separate