SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
High altitude tree. Polylepis sp. tree growing at high altitude in the Andes. This tree is amongst the highest-growing of all flowering plants, reaching elevations of over 5000 metres. It often seeds near to large rock outcrops, which provide a microclimate (thermal refuge) with higher temperatures and improved soil conditions. The characteristic flaky bark may provide insulation. Polylepis sp. trees are becoming rarer in the Andes, possible due to over-use by local people. Photographed in El Chaco, Ecuador.
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