Shola forests are rich storehouses of biodiversity. The flora show
special characteristics, as they have to adapt to extreme climates and
winds. As the high altitude sholas are like islands, disconnected from
other regions, endemicity is high. Even branches of shola trees are
colonised by a variety of species, many of them getting their water
supply from the condensing mist. They will include mosses, ferns and
other epiphytes besides woody climbers.
species in the shola forests include Measa indica, Microtropis
ramiflora and Rhododendron arboreum. The grasslands will have a number
of grass species, Chrysopogon zeylanicus and Eulalia phaeothrix being
two of the predominant species in places such as Eravikulam National
Park. More than 60 of the grasses here are endemic to Western Ghats.
The best of the grasslands have Dichanthium polyptychum according
to studies done by Kerala Forest Research Institute. The Institute has
separated several fungi belonging to Penicillium and other genuses from the
shola grass lands of Idukki district.
However, it is to be noted that there could be considerable variations
in the distribution and abundance of species in different
localities. Some species grow only specific locations such as the
edges of sholas or watercourses.
The shola grasslands habour several varieties of Strobilanthes species.
Of more than 500 species belonging to the genus, more than 50 occur in
India. Those reported from the shola grasslands between
Kodaikanal and Munnar include Strobilanthes asperrium, Strobilanthes calycina, Strobilanthes cuspidatus,
Strobilanthes foliosus, Strobilanthes gracilis,
Strobilanthes homotropa, Strobilanthes luridus,
Strobilanthes micranthus, Strobilanthes neilgherrensis,
Strobilanthes papillosus, Strobilanthes perrottetiana,
Strobilanthes pulneyensis, Strobilanthes
tristis, Strobilanthes urceolaris, Strobilanthes
violaceus, Strobilanthes wightianus and Strobilanthes
cuspidatus. All except the first two are endemic to the Western Ghats.