Montane grasslands and shrublands located above the tree line are commonly known as alpine tundra, which occurs in mountain regions around the world. Below the tree line are subalpine and montane grasslands and shrublands. Stunted subalpine forests are known as krummholz, and occur just below the tree line, where harsh, windy conditions and poor soils create dwarfed and twisted forests of slow-growing trees.
Montane grasslands and shrublands, particularly in subtropical and tropical regions, often evolved as virtual islands, separated from other montane regions by warmer, lower elevation regions, and are frequently home to many distinctive and endemic plants which evolved in response to the cool, wet climate and abundant tropical sunlight. Characteristic plants of these habitats display adaptations such as rosette structures, waxy surfaces, and hairy leaves. A unique feature of many wet tropical montane regions is the presence of giant rosette plants from a variety of plant families, such as Lobelia (Afrotropic), Puya (Neotropic), Cyathea (New Guinea), and Argyroxiphium (Hawaii).