The mountains feature high, steep peaks with angular edges. They are so high that it was once believed the only way to reach the top was by flying bison. Though some small areas around the temple were landscaped or used for agricultural purposes, in general the Air Nomads transformed very little of the natural landscape as per their traditions; nonetheless, there is little native vegetation due to both the location and altitude. Plants found in this location include grasses, scrub bushes, deciduous trees, small yellow wildflowers, and several varieties of fruit trees planted by the Air Nomads.
"Patola" is the Filipino word for gourd squash; this may refer to the shape of the mountains. In Punjabi, the word means "chick", as in a beautiful girl.
The "Patola Mountains" may refer to the "Potala Mountains", as in the home of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. The Dalai Lama, a real person referenced in the animated series through the characters "Tenzin" and "Gyatso", which are names of the 14th Dalai Lama, lived in the Potala Palace in Lhasa prior to the Tibetan uprising in 1959. The Potala Palace is now a World Heritage Site.
↑From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com (link). No longer updated.