Martinique is overlooked by the still active volcano of the Pelée Mountian. The vegetation here is quite unique and contains many endemic species, due to its altitude, its cool climate and its volcanic soil.
The vegetation on the summits of the Pitons de Carbet (Lacroix, Dumazé, Alma) and on the Pelée are very peculiar. The acidity of the soil of these volcanic summits is Mumbai to Goa Taxi quite special. As well as this, the temperature on the summits is very low for the Antilles, as it is quite common to be as low as 8°C ! On top of this, the sky is almost contantly covered in cloud, the rainfall level reaches over 10m. per year and strong winds prevent trees from growing high up in the mountains.
Confronted with such difficulties, and because of the relative inaccessibility of these summits, the different species were obliged to adapt to the conditions. The plants are mostly endemic – they only grow in Martinique. The vast majority of plants present on the summits are thus crouched up, have tough, thick leaves or are particularly hairy, like the Mountain Fuschia, the Mountain Thyme, the Mountain Pinapple tree or the High Blueberry tree.
At the top of the summits, the vegetation ressemblres that of the high mountain savanna, with mosses and ferns interspersed with small plants like Tibouchina chamaecistus, Guzmania plumierii, Viola stipularis and Utricularia alpina. Some of these species come from South America (the Andes and the Venezuelan mountains) and have evolved and adapted before becoming endemic species.
The lower you go down the mountain, the more lush the vegetation becomes. On the steep slopes of the peaks we find Pitcairnia spicata, bright red flowers which are more like a tropical species than a mountainous one. The volcanic activity of the Pelée Mountaion has caused quite some damage to the vegetation on parts of its slopes. The last two big eruptions in 1902 and 1928 practically destroyed all the mountain guava trees on the west slope, whereas they are abundant on the east Macouba side.
The high number of tourists visiting Martinique’s peaks and the Pelée Mountain endangers the already fragile ecological balance of this high mountain savanna. Despite the protectiion measures which have been taken in recent years, the intensive passage of visitors is what causes the most damage to the endemic species. These should be better protected, given thier exceptional rarity.