, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 113-119

Certain phenological characters of the shrub layer of Kumaun Himalayan forests

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The phenology of 49 shrub species in five forest types occurring along an altitudinal gradient (350–2150 m) in Kumaun Himalaya has been studied. The evergreen leaf-exchanging taxa accounted for nearly half of the species, the remaining half was nearly equally divided between an evergreen continual leaf drop type and deciduous taxa. The percentage of species with lengthy leaf drop increased with elevation and finally leveled off. At each site the maximum leaf drop period coincided with the warm dry period. Percentage of species with multiple leaf flushing was low for all forests. The degree of extended leafing decreased with increasing elevation along which summer dryness also decreased. Earliest leaf initiation was observed for evergreen continual leaf drop species, followed by evergreen leaf-exchanging, and deciduous types.

For each forest, two peaks of flowering activity occurred, one during the warm dry period and the other in the warm wet period. The percentage of species with multiple flowering increased with increasing elevation. Nearly half of the species bore fleshy fruits. The mature fruit retention period for different forests ranged from about 2–3 months.

The proportion of deciduous species was similar in trees and shrubs; leaf drop was common during the summer season for trees, while it was common during the winter season for shrubs; the proportion of species with multiple leafings was greater and leaf initiation earlier in shrubs than trees; and generally shrubs showed two flowering peaks and trees only one.

Nomenclature follows Osmaston (1926).
Financial support from the Gaula Catchment Eco-development project and the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, is gratefully acknowledged. We thank Dr. Y. P. S. Pangtey for his help in plant identification.