Monteverde's vegetation is characterized by two specific aspects: the abundance of mosses, epiphytes and lianas in the cloud forest; and the massive variety of types of vegetation. As a result there is a great regional variety of diverse plants found in a small area of land; these are found near the narrow altitudinal zone of the habitat throughout the higher parts of the steep mountainsides. It appears that the strong winds limit the height of the forest on exposed crests. The fog and rain that comes from the Caribbean side during the dry season maintains the diversity of epiphytes on the high pacific side of the reserve (Haber, W.A. 2000). Due to its altitudinal variation and its exposure climatic factors that vary between the Pacific and Caribbean slopes, the reserve offers a great variety of types of vegetation that are characteristic of the majority of vegetation formations described for the Tilaran mountain range (Catie, 1985).
Although there is no accurate data on the amount of species of flora in the reserve because no inventory has ever been made, it is said that approximately one third of Costa Rica's flora has been recorded in the Monteverde region (the reserve and nearby areas). An update of the Haber's list (1991) contains 3021 species including a total of 755 species of trees. The extremely abundant flora of the cloud forest, epiphyte, contributes substantially to the entire richness of species in the Monteverde region compared to the lowlands. Epiphytes include 29% of the flora and are more visible and plentiful in the cloud forest. They are the richest life form of flora in Monteverde, with 878 species, including 230 dicotyledons in 25 families, 471 monocotyledons in five families and 177 ferns and the like, in 13 families. The diversity of epiphytes is higher on the hillsides facing the east and on the summits where tall trees withstand hundreds of kilos of dense masses of moss, epiphytes and arboreal soil. However, several scientists claim that the area with more diverse epiphyte plants in the reserve is the one called "El Triangulo" (personal communication, Rafael Bolaños, 2005)
It is believed that the Monteverde region has the highest diversity of orchids in the world. There are more than 500 known species, 34 discovered in the reserve, are new to science. Ten percent (10%) of the reserve's flora is endemic to the Tilarán mountain range. For example, Podocarpus monteverdeensis, an endemic tree, is a species of conifer native to Monteverde.↑ Back to top