Mossy Forest

Mossy forest (sometimes called “upper montane forest” or “cloud forest”) is characterized by short trees, often with gnarled trunks and branches, that reach 8 m in protected spots but only 2-3 m on ridgetops. In very exposed, steep, windy places, only shrubs 1 m high may be present. Moss covers most tree trunks and branches, often hanging in sheets, and most ground surfaces are covered by moss and leaf litter over a thick layer of humus. It typically occurs from about 1700 m elevation up to the highest peaks, but on some large mountains on Mindanao, mossy forest begins at 2300 m, and on some ridgetops on low mountains, mossy forest may be present as low as 1000 m. Podocarp conifers with low height but large girth (up to 2 m dbh) are found in some mossy forests; oaks, laurels, myrtles, and other trees often are common, and rhododendron often are common shrubs. Ants and termites are absent, and earthworms are abundant. Most trees have small leaf size, 2-4 cm. Because this forest occurs high in the mountains, it is often on steep slopes, and many areas are rocky. Rainfall typically exceeds three meters per year, and may reach five to eight meters in some years; heavy fog is common. Daily high temperatures typically range from 15 to 20° C, but may be lower on the highest peaks.  Frost is sometimes present on the highest peaks on Luzon during January and February.

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