Tropical Deciduous Forest: Definition, Characteristics, Types in India

By K Balaji|Updated : November 16th, 2022

Tropical Deciduous Forests grow in areas with significant annual rainfall followed by a distinct dry season. These forest formations are dense and lush during the wet summers, but when most trees lose their leaves during the dry winters, they turn into a barren scene. During the dry seasons, trees consume subsurface water. The plants and animals in this ecosystem are greatly impacted by these abrupt shifts in water availability. During a drought, many trees in deciduous woods lose their leaves, whereas trees in moister areas with access to groundwater typically stay evergreen.

This article will cover all the major aspects of the Tropical Deciduous Forests in India, along with their characteristics and types.

Table of Content

Tropical Deciduous Forest: Definition

Monsoon forests, often referred to as tropical deciduous forests, are found in warm climates having annual rainfall totals of up to several hundred cm. These woods have extensive dry seasons that can last for several months and vary according to the location while being found in warm, all-year-round climates that periodically receive several hundred millimetres of rain. In general, tropical deciduous forests can be found in two locations: first between 10° and 20°N latitude and the other between 10° and 20°S latitude. These locations are in drier areas north and south of the tropical rainforest belt and south or north of subtropical deserts.

The sensitivity of tropical deciduous forests includes:

  • Overgrazing
  • Exotic species
  • Excessive burning
  • Deforestation

Tropical Deciduous Forests in India

India is one of the world's top 12 nations in terms of biodiversity. India has a tremendously diverse flora, similar to its fauna. There are 2000 unique bird species among its 90000 animal species.

Tropical Deciduous Forests dominate the vegetation of India. These forests are located in areas with annual rainfall ranging from 200 cm to 70 cm. Before winter, the tropical deciduous forests lose their leaves for roughly 1.5 to 2 months. Some evergreen trees keep their leaves all year round.

  • The Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and some areas of Maharashtra also have Tropical Deciduous Forests.
  • The trees in this type of forest lose their leaves in the dry season (usually in the fall), while certain trees that grow in damp areas have access to some water, so they continue to be green.
  • To save water during the dry season, trees shed their leaves. They are known as monsoon forests for this reason.
  • The summer months, when tropical deciduous forests receive the most precipitation, are when the trees and other flora in these woods stay lush and dense.
  • Tropical evergreen woods have a greater diversity of life than tropical deciduous forests. The majority of India's forests are tropical deciduous ones.

Trees Found in Tropical Deciduous Forests

Some of the hardwood trees in the Tropical Deciduous Forests include sal, teak, neem, and shisham.

  • Hardwood trees are used to make construction, transportation, and furniture.
  • These forests contain peepal, Khair, sandalwood, mulberry, cane, Arjun, bamboo, mahua, Kusum, and amla.
  • Humans overuse these species due to their high economic worth. Additionally, some trees are cut down for various agricultural uses.

Characteristics of Tropical Deciduous Forests in India

The characteristics of Tropical Deciduous Forests are:

  • The density of these forests is lower.
  • These forests are the most widespread in India, covering an area with annual rainfall ranging from 200 to 70 cm.
  • During the dry summer, trees in this forest type lose their leaves for six to eight weeks.
  • Therefore, the country's eastern region is where these forests are primarily found.

>> Tropical Deciduous Forests [PDF]

Types of Tropical Deciduous Forests

Based on precipitation and availability of water, Tropical Deciduous Forests are divided into two categories:

Moist Deciduous Forests

  • Moist deciduous forests can be found in areas with an annual rainfall of 200–100 cm.
  • This flora thrives at mean yearly temperatures of about 24°C to 27°C and relative humidity levels of 60–75%.
  • Around 37% of the entire area is covered with moist deciduous forests.
  • The trees in this forest type shed their leaves for roughly six to eight weeks during the dry summer.
  • These are arid regions primarily found in the gaps between the two-layered woods.
  • These sorts of forests can be found in India on the Chota Nagpur plateau and the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
  • They can also be found in Andaman and Nicobar island areas, West Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and the North-eastern States along the foothills of the Himalayas and Jharkhand.

Dry Deciduous Forests

  • Dry deciduous forests can be found where annual rainfall ranges from 70 to 100 cm.
  • In contrast, dry margins of dry deciduous forests merge into moist deciduous forests, and wet margins of dry deciduous forests merge into thorny vegetation.
  • Around 28% of the total area of tropical deciduous forests is made up of dry deciduous woods.
  • To save water during the dry season, the trees and plants in this forest type shed their leaves.
  • These kinds of forests can be found in North India and the southern Deccan plateau regions. They can be found in the plains of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and the peninsular plateau's rainier northeastern regions.
Important Notes for UPSC
Revolutionary Movement in IndiaFreedom of Speech
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Swaraj PartyAssent to Bills
Drainage System of IndiaChief Ministers of India


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FAQs on Tropical Deciduous Forest

  • The most common types of forests in India are Tropical Deciduous Forests. They are also known as monsoon forests, covering a region that receives between 200 and 70 cm of precipitation annually. During the dry summer, trees in this forest type lose their leaves for roughly six to eight weeks.

  • The characteristics of Tropical Deciduous Forests in India are:

    • They are found in tropical and subtropical latitudes. 
    • To save water during the dry season, trees lose their leaves. 
    • Some trees that grow in wet environments tend to be evergreen. 
    • Sal, teak, neem, and shisham are the most typical trees in these forests.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and a small portion of Maharashtra are among the Indian states with tropical deciduous forests.

  • The monsoon forest is another name for the Tropical Deciduous Forests. Know more about the forests from here.

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