The Amazon Rainforest is teeming with flora and fauna. Thousands of different species are locked in an intricate ecosystem which allows both sides to thrive within these often harsh and mysterious landscapes. Whilst you should keep your eyes out for animals such as toucans, spider monkeys, caimans and even jaguars; there is also plenty of plant life worth looking out for during your Amazon adventure.
The Kapok Tree is not easy to miss when exploring the Amazon Rainforest, as it stretches into the sky to reach a massive 200 feet in some cases. It is not just its height that makes it stand out though; the diameter of its trunk has also been known to measure at an impressive 9 metres across. Whilst locals use its wood to build canoes and the soft fibres at the end of its branches to stuff pillows and bedding, the tree has a clever way of spreading itself around. The flowers that it produces may smell horrible to us but they are irresistible to bats. The nocturnal creatures land on the tree to feed and get covered in pollen, before spreading it far and wide as they fly.
Chocoholics may well be aware that the cacao is where every bar of Cadbury’s starts out. The yellow pods that grow will turn red or purple when they are ripe and then they are harvested to produce cocoa beans, which can them be turned into chocolate. Because the tree grows well in the shade, it is perfectly suited to the Rainforest and isn’t deterred by the canopy above. Cacao farmers are even being taught to grow their trees in shaded areas as this produces a higher quality product.
Giant Water Lily
The Giant Water Lily is not only beautiful to look at but also has a very intriguing life cycle. Flowering for just 48 hours at a time, it starts off male before trapping beetles overnight and transforming to female by the morning. When the bugs are released again, they are covered with the lily’s pollen and will, therefore, distribute it as they go about gathering nectar. The massive pads that you may see floating on the calmer waters of the Amazon can grow to two and a half metres across. Established leaves can support a small child and each plant can possess around 50 of these at once.
The fact that orchids are the largest family of plants in the world makes it no surprise that many different species can be found within the Amazon Rainforest. Noticeable by their vibrant petals, orchids come in every colour possible except black. They are, however, extremely fragile as each species tends to rely on a particular bird or insect to pollinate them. Therefore, if that creature becomes endangered through deforestation, the corresponding orchid will also suffer. Particular orchid species found in the Amazon include the delightfully smelling Prosthechea fragrans and the recently discovered ‘singing’ orchid.
When you hear of and see the lipstick tree it might not be very familiar to you. However, the chances are that you have come across it before and most people will even know what it tastes like. Whilst local indigenous tribes use its red, strawberry-like seeds as body paint, it is widely used as a natural food colouring in Europe and North America. If you’ve eaten cheese, butter or certain types of popcorn, it’s likely that it was coloured yellow or orange by the seeds of the lipstick tree.
Passion Fruit Flower
Most people would be able to recognise a passion fruit if they were presented with one, but few would be able to identify the flower from which the fruit is plucked. Its large, purple and white petals make it one of the most beautiful sights within the Amazon Rainforest, but passion fruits themselves are actually poisonous if eaten before they are ripe. The variety which grows in this part of the world is yellow, not purple, and is said to be sweeter than those we are used to in the UK.
If you would like to discover some of the fascinating flora that lives in the Amazon Rainforest, we have some great tours to choose from. Contact our team for more information or get in touch using our online form.