Rainforest plants

The rainforests are as rich in plants as they are in animals.

The biggest plants are of course the trees. The island of Madagascar has 2,000 species of trees. (In all of North America, there are only 700 species of trees.)

Rainforest trees grow very slowly, and they live for hundreds of years. When a mahogany tree is fifteen years old, it is about fifteen metres tall. After fifty years, it is about thirty metres. It goes on growing until it is 150 years old.

Some trees grow as tail as seventy metres — and some animals live all their lives in the tops of these trees!

The rafflesia grows in the forest on the island of Borneo. It is the largest flower in the world. It catches and eats insects.

The quetzal is a large bird, about one metre long, but it eats only fruit. In the mountain rainforests from Mexico to Costa Rica it can find fruit every day of the year.

Other rainforest birds eat only insects. And hummingbirds drink the nectar from flowers. While a hummingbird is drinking nectar from a flower, its wings move up and down about fifty-five times every second.

Many rainforest plants are in danger because people take them from the forest to sell in the shops of the rich countries of the north.

When you visit a flower shop near you, ask about the plants there. Did someone take any plants from the rainforest and bring them to sell in the shop?

The slipper orchid grows in Borneo. There are only a few of these orchids now, but in 1987, someone went into the rainforest to take one. He sold it for $10,000.


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