Vegetation: what it is and types

In the forest we find vegetation, mainly trees.

Wherever you go you will find landscapes that can leave you in awe. Whether in a tropical jungle, in a temperate forest or in the desert, the plants that have managed to adapt to each of these environments mean that, today, the planet we live on is inhabited by many types of animals.

These living beings have been evolving for so long that it has been said of them that they are the real rulers of the Earth, since thanks to the relationships they have established with a great variety of insects, microorganisms, and even with mammals among the that the human is, they have managed to colonize practically any corner, which each has its own vegetation.

What is vegetation exactly?

Vegetation is important to animals

Vegetation is important to animals

Vegetation is a term that refers to a set of plants that grow wild on the ground or in an aquatic environment such as a swamp or a river. These plants can be wild, but also include those that have been cultivated by humans and that, for some reason, have managed to become wild.

What is flora and vegetation?

Both words can be confused, since they are closely related. But it is important to differentiate them:

Vegetation types

Types of vegetation on EarthTypes of vegetation on Earth

Screenshot. Work done by Sten Porse.

All plant species depend on the climate to be able to live, grow and, ultimately, settle in the area. Therefore, there are many types of vegetation, which are:

Frozen and polar desert

In the polar desert there is little vegetationIn the polar desert there is little vegetation

Image – Flickr / GRID-Arendal

They are places where less than 250mm of precipitation is recorded per year, and where the warmest month has a temperature below 10ºC.. The plants we find here are small, and often take on rounded shapes, like the Antarctic carnation (Colobanthus quitensis) or Antarctic grass (Deschampsia antarctica).


The tundra has short plantsThe tundra has low-growing plants

Image – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Russian tundra means “plain without trees”, and it is that in these flat lands the only thing that grows are grasses, mosses and lichens. The conditions are not as extreme as in the frozen desert, but still Very low temperatures are registered (there can be -70ºC in winter) and between 150 and 250mm of precipitation falls per year.


The taiga is a cold climate biome

The taiga is a cold climate biome

In this biome we begin to see conifers, which are the ones that best withstand cool temperatures, as well as trees such as elms, oaks or certain maples the further south.

About 450mm of average precipitation falls per year, and temperatures are between 19ºC in summer and -30ºC in winter.

Deciduous temperate forest

Deciduous forests are common in the temperate region of the planet

Deciduous forests are common in the temperate region of the planet

In this forest we will see mainly deciduous trees, such as beech (Fagus), or elm trees (Ulmus), since in winter temperatures can drop to -20ºC and even a little more. However, both the mild temperatures of the rest of the year and the precipitations, which are abundant and fall in a well distributed manner, help them to grow without problems for several months.

Temperate steppe

The temperate steppe has an extreme climate

The temperate steppe has an extreme climate

Here we will see a landscape without trees again. The weather is extremeBoth can be very hot (40ºC or more) and down to -15ºC. In addition, it rains little, about 250mm a year, so only the best adapted plants live, such as many grasses and aromatic herbs.

Subtropical rainforest

Subtropical rainforests have plants of all kinds

Subtropical rainforests have plants of all kinds

They are places where rainfall is very abundant, with an average of 1000 to 2000mm, and if we talk about temperatures, they do not usually drop below 16ºC in the middle of winter.nor rise more than 31ºC in summer. Therefore, many plants feel very comfortable here: travelers’ palm (ravenala madagascariensis), many palm trees like the Deeply shining or coconut treeCocoa nuts), Etc.

Mediterranean vegetation

The Mediterranean forest has drought resistant plants

The Mediterranean forest has drought resistant plants

Or Mediterranean forest. The plants are characterized by being very resistant to drought and high temperatures close to 40ºC, such as the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), or the olive tree (European oils). It rains little, in fact they do not usually register more than 500mm a year (although there are areas where 1000mm is recorded), and when this water falls, it usually does so in spring and autumn; that is summer becomes the warmest and driest season.

Monsoon forest

The monsoon forest is a seasonal forest

The monsoon forest is a seasonal forest

It is a type of seasonal tropical forest in which semi-evergreen plants and semi-evergreen trees predominate. It is a biome of extremes, with a season with very abundant rainfall from the monsoon, and another season in which it hardly rains. Even so, the average annual rainfall is about 2000mm. No frosts are registered; in fact, the lowest temperature is above 10ºC.

Arid desert

In the desert there is little vegetationIn the desert there is little vegetation

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Diego Delso

There are hardly any plants here. Annual rainfall is around 100mm, and even less in certain deserts such as the Atacama for example, where it only rains every 15 years or more; and temperatures can well exceed 40ºC.

Xerophytic shrub

Cacti live in arid regions

Cacti live in arid regions.

Conditions here are a little better than in the arid desert. Temperatures can be very high, 40ºC or more, and rainfall is less than 200mm. Despite this, many cacti live there, like the Pachycereus pringlei.

Dry steppe

In the dry steppe there are few varieties of plants

In the dry steppe there are few varieties of plants

It is a type of biome with a continental semi-arid climate in which between 200 and 400mm of precipitation are recorded per year, and temperatures ranging from 26ºC in summer and -18ºC in winter. As for the plants that inhabit it, we have the wormwood (Artemisia), Festuca or Stipa, among others.

Semi-arid desert

The semi-arid desert has succulents like agaves and cactiThe semi-arid desert has succulents like agaves and cacti

Image – Wikimedia / brewbooks

In these kinds of deserts between 500 and 800mm of annual rainfall falls, but the average temperature is above 18ºC. Thus, it is common to see shrubs and steppes, and also many succulent and similar plants, such as agaves, Ferocactus or peyote (Lophophora).

Herbaceous savanna

The herbaceous savanna is mainly made up of grasses

The herbaceous savannah consists mainly of grasses

They are plains inhabited by herbaceous plants. It is so hot during the day and during a good part of the year (40-45ºC maximum) and drought can become so extreme that virtually no tree could survive therein.

Wooded savanna

The wooded savanna are landscapes in which generally deciduous trees inhabit

The wooded savannah are landscapes inhabited by generally deciduous trees

It is a type of savanna in which very high and minimum temperatures are recorded above 10ºC, but where rainfall is around 100-200mm per year. Therefore, some trees grow, such as the baobab (Adansonia).

Subtropical dry forest

The subtropical dry forest has deciduous treesThe subtropical dry forest has deciduous trees

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Adbar

Plants such as the Chilean carob grow in it (Prosopis chilensis) or the white quebracho (Aspidosperma quebracho-white). Annual rainfall is between 500 and 1000mmand the annual average of temperatures is between 17 and 24ºC.

Rain forest

The rainforest is a hive of plant life

The rainforest is a hive of plant life.

Also known as equatorial jungle or humid tropical forest, with maximum temperatures of 35ºC, with an average of between 25 and 27ºC. In addition, it must be said that these barely change throughout the year, which added to the fact that the rainfall is generally abundant, 1500mm per year, means that more than 600 species of trees can be found in just one hectare. Likewise, many palm trees are natural in these areas, such as the Euterpe and even some Chamaedorea.

Alpine tundra

The alpine tundra is a very cold climate biome

Alpine tundra is a biome of very cold climates

They are areas where the lowest temperature can be -70ºC, and the maximum temperatures do not usually reach 20ºC.. Short plants grow here, such as the creeping willow (salix repens), or the arctic poppy (Poppy rooted).

Montane forest

Conifers abound in the mountain forest

Coniferous trees abound in the mountain forest.

Also known as mountain forest. They are generally landscapes in which conifers abound, as well as deciduous trees, where the average temperature is 8 to 15ºC.

What role does vegetation have in nature?

Vegetation is important to animals

Vegetation is important to animals

Vegetation is essential so that other beings can live and do it well, taking into account the characteristics and evolution of each one. Therefore, it does not have a single function, but rather it has several.

Perhaps the most important is that thanks to it, many biogeochemical flows are regulatedlike those of the water without which none of us would be here, or the carbon. Likewise, they can modify the characteristics of the soil, since the leaves, flowers, fruits and branches that fall on it, when decomposing, release the nutrients that were used to manufacture them.

Finally, they are the refuge of countless animals and microorganisms, and are often their main source of food. Humans, for example, consume the fruits of many trees, such as the apple tree, the orange tree, or the almond tree, and that is not to mention that we protect ourselves from the sun under their branches.

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Vegetation: what it is and types

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