The Ecological / Vegetation Zones of the Rwenzori Mountains
Rwenzori Mountains Vegetation

There is a wide variety of ecological and vegetation zones in the Ruwenzori Mountains, ranging from snow to alpine meadows to tropical rainforest jungles as you climb from the lower slopes to the summit. The mountain range is home to its very unique species and varieties of enormous groundsel and huge lobelia, in addition to a moss-covered heather that stands at a height of six meters on one of its uppermost summits. In addition to Rwenzori Mountains National Park in southwestern Uganda and Virunga National Park in eastern Congo, the majority of the range is now recognized as a World Heritage Site. The Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda are often considered to be among the most remarkable tourist sites not just in Uganda but also on the whole African continent. In addition to the snow-capped peak tops, the Rwenzori Mountains include a variety of flora kinds that change their appearance as you ascend through the various zones.

Without a doubt, the Rwenzori Mountains, which are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are the most breathtaking mountain ranges in Africa. Snow, glaciers, and rugged slopes with woods, rare mountain flora, a diversity of wildlife, and crystal clear mountain streams and lakes may be found on the summits of the mountains. Some of the most breathtaking alpine vistas in Africa may be found in this region, which is characterized by glaciers, waterfalls, and lakes. The park is home to a wide variety of unique and diversified flora, including the gigantic heather, as well as a number of natural habitats that are suitable for endangered wildlife.

The rich and varied vegetation of Rwenzori is comprised of five separate vegetation zones, which are as follows: the bamboo zone, the heather zone and afro-alpine, the montane forest, the grassland zone, and the swamp zone. The enormous lobelia and groundsels that may be seen at higher elevations are examples of their kind. Even while it is most well-known for the challenging hiking and climbing possibilities it provides, it also is home to a wide variety of animals, including seventy different species of mammals and 177 different species of birds, many of which are exclusive to the Albertine Rift. In addition to buffalo and elephants, the mountain is home to a wide variety of endangered animals, such as the Rwenzori leopard, the Rwenzori colobus, the Hyrax, the Blue monkey, and the Rwenzori Turaco. It is the only national park in Uganda where the Angola Colobus has been seen in the wild.

Other kinds of animals, such as duikers, may be seen living on the lower slopes of the mountain. Many different kinds of birds, including the Rwenzori turaco, olive pigeons, mountain buzzards, francolins, and white-necked ravens, may be seen in this area. In addition to offering a breathtaking and one-of-a-kind experience, the Rwenzoris Mountains are home to a number of excellent mountaineering and hiking opportunities. Climbing, unique flora, and bird watching are some of the activities that travelers may appreciate over the seven-day main circuit. When climbing, it is recommended that one be in great health and physically fit before beginning the climb. The Rwenzori Mountaineering Services crew is responsible for providing all of the climbing gear.

Rwenzori Vegetation Zones

Included in the following list of varieties of vegetation that may be explored on your budget safaris in Uganda are those that are located near Mount Rwenzori:

Rwenzori vegetation zones

Afro Montane forest 1,800-2500 metres

The canopy of the forest appears to be shattered, and the trees in the forest are of a size that is somewhere in the middle. The Red Stinkwood, podocarpus milanjianus, vernonia adolfi-friderici, Do Mbeya, and symphonic globulifera, all of which are characterized by their waxy red blossoms, are among the most abundant tree species that can be observed in this region. Some of the smaller understory trees include Grumilea megistocticta, which is a wild cousin of the gardenia. There are also a variety of other understory trees. Tree ferns, Ensete edulis, and Cynthia deckenii are some of the wild bananas that can be found under the renowned tree. The wide thickets and higher trees that come along with them are also there. Numerous herbaceous plants, including excellent begonia, begonia mayari – Johannis, and plenty of impatiens and balsams, are included in this category. The notable trees that are not found in other vegetation zones include trees that are draped with creeps and tree orchids. These trees are not frequent in other vegetation zones.

Bamboo zone 2,500 to 3000 metres

The grounds of the zone are covered with a heavy litter of bamboo leaves since it is a bamboo zone. The zone is located between 2500 and 300 meters on moderate slopes and has decent soil. In this particular region, the vegetation is classified as mountain bamboo, Arundinaria alpine, thick stands, and pure form. The slope is moderate, and the soil is of high quality. On slopes that are steep and rocky, bamboo is covered by a dense undergrowth that is formed of shrubs of the canthus varieties. Mimulopsis Elliot, a huge lobelia, is a plant that thrives in damp and marshy environments. Even though they grow on narrow in many ridges, the gigantic heathers, Philippia johnstoni, and Erica kingaensis do not attain their full potential in terms of size. Within this region, the eternal Helicyrysum also started to make its appearance. at intervals of around thirty years, to take notice of the bamboo blooms.

Pocarpus milinjianus, Do Mbeya sp., Affrocrania volkensii, Maesa lanceolate, Dracaena framontana, and Hagenia abyssinica are some of the trees that may be found growing in the montane zone, along with bamboo and undergrowth. There are many different types of spreading trees and scrubs, and some of the ones that may be found in Rwenzori are as follows: Rubus Doggett, blackberry, tree ferns, Cyathae decennia, an Arum lily, Arisoema ruwenzoricus, an Amaryllis, and scarlet flowers that grow in the forks of the bigger trees.

Heather zone 3,000 to 4,000 meters

These are some of the actual Heather forests, which may be found in areas with poor soil, on the summits of ridges, on rocky land, and on ground that is quite marshy. There is a thick layer of sphagnum moss wrapping around the tree trunks and the ground, and the branches are covered in lichens that have an unsealable beard. There are several herbaceous plants that may be found in this region, such as the orchid, Disa stairsii, red and mauve balsam, and impatiens runsorrensis.Additionally, there are a great number of heathers of the philippic trim era and Erica kingaensis, both of which occasionally produce pink blooms in enormous quantities. Stoebe kilimamdscharica, which is the actual heather with which it grows, is virtually abundant on Mount Elgon, which is a composite that resembles a heath. Stoebe kilimamdscharica also appears at the highest elevations of the Karamoja Mountains, which are somewhat drier.

The valleys that surround the area are filled with enormous bogs that are completely occupied by a wide variety of sedge species, the most significant of which is carex runsorrensis, which grows in tussocks.A region that is covered with sphagnum moss and where fine lobelia becquaertii may be seen can be found in the space between the tussocks. On the other hand, there is a mixed form of woodland that can be found on slopes that have good drainage. This type of forest is composed of Rapanea rhododendroides leaves in addition to two arboreal St. John’s worts, namely Hypericum lanceolatum and Hypericum keniense, with yellow flowers. Additionally, orange flowers can be found at the highest point of this zone. Other trees that may be found in woodlands include Senecio longeligulatus, which is the tallest of the lobelias, Lobelia stuhlmanni, and Hagebia Abyssinia trees, which are smaller in size. Note that a significant portion of the undergrowth is made up of the everlasting Helichrysum guilelmi, which has blooms that are both white and pink in color. The park is also brimming with common trees such as the blackberry, wild celery, Arisoema lilies, and yellow alyssum, which sprawls across the rocks. Hagenia trees, on the other hand, grow in much greater abundance in other mountain locations, where they constitute the dominating species.

Alpine zone 4,000 to 4500 meters

These vegetation zones are also a part of Rwenzori National Park, which is comprised of the following: lobelia wollastonii, torch lobelia, and thick tangled growth of the everlasting Helichrysum stuhlumani; giant groundsel, Senecio adnivalis, which is covered by Senecio longeligulatus, which grows in great numbers on all deep and well-watered soils; and Senecio longeligulatus, which is approximately 12,500 feet below the ground. When it comes to bogs and lakes, carex tussocks and some rushes are the dominant species.

In addition to this ecological zone, there are drier slopes and open meadows that are frequently covered with Alchemilla, which has plants with woody stems and silvery leaves. Above 4,300 meters, the vegetation begins to thin out until nothing grows but moss, a lichen with a blackish tint, and other little plants that are covered with white woolly hairs and grow to a height of twelve inches. These plants grow to a height of twelve inches. To put it another way, Weismann peak, which is dome-shaped and flattish in shape, is covered with a variety of mosses, including green, rusty yellow, brown, and many others. It is 4,620 meters in height.

Vegetation around Rwenzori

The exquisite Rwenzori Mountain flora, which never fails to strike tourists by surprise, is the first thing that visitors encounter as they enter the montane forest. The natural origins of the mountain and the abundance of plants are partly responsible for this. From tropical rainforest, which is characterized by dense stands, to other types of flora, the landscape is really stunning. Bamboo leaves, which are lovely evergreen plants, have accumulated in such a dense litter that they cover the ground beneath them. With very few exceptions, trees are of intermediate size; thus, the canopy of the forest is broken, and the diversity of vegetation extends surrounding the trees that bloom with yellow flowers. There is an abundance of shrubs and herbaceous plants, some of which are the Rwenzori blackberry and Rubus dogetti, amongst others.

It has been determined that the natural vegetation of the Rwenzori Mountains may be divided into five distinct zones, with most of the control coming from height and aspect. In the upper altitude zone, the vegetation consists of heath and Afro-alpine moorland. It is the perfect place to meditate while listening to the calming melodies of a variety of tropical bird species since it provides a feeling of solitude that facilitates relaxation.

However, the alpine meadow’s natural vegetation does not contain any trees due to its high elevation. At higher heights, the flora becomes more abundant, particularly the rare species that can only be found in the afro-alpine vegetation zone. Some of the plant species that fall within this category are groundsels and lobelia, including Senecio longeligulatus, Senecio adnivalis, and giant heathers. The park’s vegetation is quite varied, and it is divided into five separate zones based on the height of the vegetation. At a height ranging from one thousand to two thousand meters, the grassland vegetation is present. Between 2,000 and 3,000 meters, there is a bamboo vegetation zone, and between 2,500 and 3,000 meters, there are montane woodlands. Both of these types of flora may be found.

While the Rwenzori Mountains are plentiful with an afro-alpine moorland vegetation zone between 4,000 and 4,500 meters, the heather vegetation zone extends from 3,000 to 4,000 meters. This gives you a sense of accomplishment as you reach the pinnacle of the mountain. The vegetation that grows on top of Rwenzori Mountain is unlike anything else in East Africa. This is because of the significant amount of rainfall that occurs in this region. There is an increase in the variety of plants that can be found in the Rwenzori mountains, particularly some rare species that are only found in the afro-alpine vegetation zone. Groundsels and lobelia plant species can be found with them in this ecological zone because of the high altitude at which they are located.


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