Altitudinal richness patterns were investigated along altitudinal gradients located in northern Norway (two transects) and along a west–east gradient in southern Norway (five transects). The transects were sampled for vascular plant species richness using a uniform sampling method. Each transect consisted of 38–48 5×5 m sample plots regularly spaced from sea level or valley bottom to a local mountain top. In five transects species richness peaked at mid-altitudes, whereas in the two northern transects species richness decreased with altitude. The observations were qualitatively evaluated in relation to the influence of the area of the species pool, hard boundaries, temperature and precipitation, and mass effect. The observed patterns cannot be fully accounted for by any of these factors. However, the altitude of the peak in species richness was above the forest-limit for all the humped relationships, which may suggest that species richness above the forest-limit might be enhanced by a mass effect from forest taxa. The two monotonic relationships found in the north may be caused by the relatively low number of alpine species at these sites. The monotonic pattern may result from a decrease in “forest species” towards the mountain tops.