Zambia has very little montane vegetation. Four mountains exceed an altitude of 2000 metres: the Nyika Plateau, which is mostly in Malawi; the Mafinga Mountains, also on the Malawi border; Mukutu, an isolated block in Isoka District to the west of the Nyika Plateau; and another isolated peak, Sunzu, south-east of Mbala.
Montane vegetation consists mostly of four types: sub-montane forest; miombo woodland; macchia-type scrub; and grassland. The Zambian side of Nyika Plateau has two fine sub-montane forests, Chowo and Manyenjere, and Mukutu also has another. Similar sub-montane forest occurs throughout northern Zambia, notably at the sources of the Zambezi, Lunsemfwa and several other large rivers, and also along the upper escarpments of the Luangwa and Luapula Rivers.
High altitude miombo woodland is usually stunted, the trees seldom growing more than about 6 metres high, and often as little as 2 metres. They are thickly encrusted with lichens and epiphytic orchids.
The macchia-type scrub includes many shrubs in the families Proteaceae: Protea and Faurea, and Ericaceae: Erica, Agauria, and Asteraceae (the daisy family): Helichrysum, the “everlastings”.
Montane grassland is much more extensive than forest. It is extremely rich in flowering herbs, which are seen as their best in the months after the rains, from March to May. After the fires these areas appear desolate, but without the fires the grassland would turn to scrub, and would lose its herbaceous flora.
Sub-montane areas, at elevations above 1400m, are much more extensive. The flora is less distinctive than the vegetation of the high mountains, but is nevertheless varied and rich. More than 360 species of orchids in five different habitats have been recorded (Williamson).