The special characteristics that enable plants and animals to be successful in a particular environment are called adaptations.
- Epiphytes are plants that live on the surface of other plants, especially the trunk and branches. They grow on trees to take advantage of the sunlight in the canopy. Most are orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and Philodendron relatives. Tiny plants called epiphytes, mostly mosses, liverworts and lichens, live on the surface of leaves.
- The leaves of many rainforest plants have drip tips for these enable raindrops to run off quickly. Plants need to shed water to avoid the growth of fungus and bacteria in the warm, wet tropical rainforest.
- Many large trees have massive ridges near the base that can rise 30 feet high before blending into the trunk. Buttress roots provide extra stability, especially since roots of tropical rainforest trees are not typically as deep as those of trees in temperate zones. Prop and stilt roots help give support and are characteristic of tropical palms growing in shallow, wet soils. Although the tree grows fairly slowly, these above-ground roots can grow 28 inches a month.
- In drier, temperate deciduous forests a thick bark helps to limit moisture evaporation from the tree’s trunk. Since this is not a concern in the high humidity of tropical rainforests, most trees have thin, smooth bark. The smoothness of the bark may also make it difficult for other plants to grow on their surface.
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