Plants Galore!Rain forests are green year round! Their hot and humid climates are perfect for the tall trees and plants. Tropical rain forests cover about 6% of the earth’s surface, but more than half of the of world’s plant and animal species live there! Rain forest soil does not have a lot of nutrients, so plants adapted to survive there. Some plants, like a pitcher plant, use animals to receive their nutrients! The top layer of the soil has the most nutrients. Trees have adapted by spreading their roots wide and across the forest floor to draw up water and nutrients from the top layer of the soil.Plants that grow in the understory and on the dark forest floor tend to have huge leaves! The big leaves help the plants take in as much sunlight as possible. The forest floor is so dark, some plants have adapted by growing on tall trees. They are called epiphytes (EP-uh-fites) or nicknamed "air plants." They do not need soil to survive and absorb or catch their water from the air. The large amount of rain causes some leaves to have special tips, this helps get rid of the extra water. Some plants act as "water bowls" for animals. The tree frog drinks water from these special plants, called bromeliads.
air plants (photograph from caltech.edu) pitcher plant (photograph from rainforestexplorers.com)Millions of different kinds of animals live in a rain forest. Animals live in all four layers of the rain forest. Most animals live in the canopy layer. Orangutans have developed long, powerful arms to swing from tree to tree. Small animals like monkeys, birds, rodents, snakes, and frogs never touch the ground. They hide in the understory for shelter from the rain and protection from other animals. During the day, tree frogs rest inside bromeliads (plant) for protection from other animals. At night, they catch insects with long, quick-action tongues. Many animals are nocturnal and come out at night.Many animals use camouflage, like the sloth for protection from predators. Blueish-green algae grows on its' fur, which helps the sloth blend in with the trees. Many birds use their beaks to help them eat foods most animals will not. Toucans use their bright colored beaks to crack very hard seeds, eat fruits, and to scare away enemies.toucan (photo from cotf.edu) sloth (photo from cotf.edu)