PLANTS OF THE RAINFOREST
A tropical greenhouse
More than two thirds of the world's
plant species are found in the tropical rainforests: plants that provide
shelter and food for rainforest animals as well as taking part in the gas
exchanges which provide much of the world's oxygen supply.
Rainforest plants live in a warm humid environment that allows an enormous variation rare in more temperate
climates: some like the orchids have beautiful flowers adapted to attract
the profusion of forest insects.
Competition at ground level for light and food has lead to evolution of plants which live on the branches
of other plants, or even strangle large trees to fight for survival.
The aerial plants often gather nourishment from the air itself using so-called 'air roots';. The humidity of the rainforest encourages such adaptations which would be impossible in most temperate
forests with their much drier conditions.