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Sholas are the local name for patches of stunted tropical montane forest found in valleys amid rolling grassland in the higher montane regions of South India, largely in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. These patches of shola forest are found mainly in the valleys and are usually separated from one another by undulating montane grassland. The shola and grassland together form the shola-grassland complex or mosaic. Not all such high-altitude grasslands have sholas in their valleys, especially if they are isolated from other such meadows, such as the meadows found in the Idamalayar Reserve Forest in Ernakulam district of Kerala. The word 'Shola' is probably derived from the Tamil language word cÕlai (சோலை) meaning grove.The shola-forest and grassland complex has been described as a climatic climax vegetation with forest regeneration and expansion restricted by climatic conditions such as frost or soil characteristics while others have suggested that it may have anthropogenic origins in the burning and removal of forests by early herders and shifting agriculturists.

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