March 24, 2020

Believe it or not, the world's rainforests play a vital role to the sustainability of our environment. They are responsible for producing about 20-30 percent of the total oxygen that is produced in the world each year. Now, just think about the Amazon rainforest. Although it is shrinking due to deforestation, it is still the largest tropical rainforest to exist. It covers most of the Amazon basin in South America, and it is known to be one of the most diverse in biodiversity.

The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% the world's oxygen supply.


Isn’t that INSANE?!

This is the work of its beautiful plants!


The flora of the Amazon helps maintain oxygen content in the air all over the world, this would also mean less carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other harmful gases around the globe. These gasses also contribute to the greenhouse effect as well as higher global temperatures.

Many plants are also useful herbal medicines. In fact, scientists have found that the trees of this forest hold the key to cure cancer and perhaps even AIDS. The medicines that we use and are exposed to everyday, like aspirin or painkillers. Medicines that are used for different treatments, such as heart ailments. All of those hold different compounds that are extracted from these plants.


The climate of Amazon is very particular and has led to many adaptations. Some cool adaptions include:
  • The emergent layer is what consists of all the tall trees that attain a height of 40m. Being this tall is what helps them attain strong sunlight.
  • The rainforest plants and trees have adapted into having downward curving tips to help drip off excess rainwater.
  • Some trees are straight with branches found only at the top. These trees are supported by buttress roots. The Amazon tends to flood every few months and so the plants have adapted to prevent themselves drowning.

 

Not only are there adaptions but the forest itself is also separated in layers, and they all contribute to a special purpose.
  • Forest Floor: This is the bottom-most layer of the rainforest. This is where most of the decomposition of biological matter takes place.
  • Understory: This is the middle layer. This is where the leaves of the plants growing are very large and work to attain every bit of the little sunlight that reaches the layer.
  • Canopy: The canopy layer is the uppermost layer in which creates a maze of branches and leaves. This layer attains most sunlight and helps protect the lower layers from getting too dried out.
Each layer works together in different ways to keep the rainforest at its best.

Bromeliads

  • There are over 2,000 bromeliad species just in the Amazon rainforest.
  • The most common is the tropical fruit, pineapple.
  • There is a vast variety of colors like purple, blue, orange, and red.
  • They are found growing all over the rainforest such as on rocks, in soil, on other plants and tree trunks.
  • These are life-sustaining plants. The leaves of these plants overlap each other and in turn store rainwater.
 
The Heliconia flower

  • Is known by many other names such as wild plantain, lobster-claw and false bird-of-paradise flowers.
  • Provides food and shelter for many organisms.
  • Are shaped in a way, that only a few birds can reach them for nectar.
  • They are found in many colors, patterns and sizes.
  • Make great decorative flowers around the world.
 
Orchids

  • Known for their beauty and strong fragrance.
  • There are hundreds of orchid species in the Amazon rainforest.
  • They can survive for long periods without water.
  • Improves air quality.
  • Calming influence.
  • Reduces allergies.
  • They are epiphytes. They are found living on other trees.
  • They produce hundreds and thousands of seeds, which are then carried by the wind throughout the forest for propagation.
 
The Trumpet tree

  • There are about 100 different species of trees.
  • Produces flowers in large, dense clusters.
  • Helps with high blood pressure.
  • Some use the roots to cure wounds.
  • The leaves are boiled down and used to treat inflammation.
  • Tea made from the leaves is used to treat respiratory ailments.
 
The Rubber tree

  • The rubber tree was the focus of the rubber boom in the 1880s.
  • The milky liquid produced contains 30% rubber.
  • This is used in tires for bicycles and cars.
  • Can be used for items such as surgical gloves.
  • Rubber trees are about 30 meters (90 ft) tall.
 
The Tangarana tree

 
  • Has small holes along the branches.
  • If disturbed, ants swarm the tree to protect it from harm.
  • It shelters a species of fire ant that have a potent sting.
  • The ants have a mutualistic relationship with the tree.
  • It provides a home for the ants as well as feed them.
  • The trees grow to around 30 meters (98 ft) tall.
 
The Monkey brush

 
  • The flowers resemble small bright red and yellow brushes.
  • Grows as a vine on its own or as a parasite on other plants.
  • Their bright colors attract hummingbirds. They drink the nectar and pollinate the plants.
  • They are found all throughout the Amazon Rainforest
  • Often found near waterways.

 

Written by: Yolanda Pineda


 

 References:

Ash. (2019, September 10). The 29 Most Fascinating Plants in the Amazon Rainforest. Retrieved from https://tourthetropics.com/guides/most-fascinating-plants-in-the-amazon-rainforest/

(“What Plants Are in the Amazon Rainforest? |,” 2019 Retrieved from https://www.delfinamazoncruises.com/amazon-flora/what-plants-are-in-the-amazon-rainforest/

(“rubber tree | Definition & Facts,” n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/plant/rubber-tree


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