The Amazon is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, with over 80,000 plant species, according to the World Wildlife Fund. These plants provide everything from medicines to building materials. Some are simply stunning to behold, such as those plants that feature giant leaves. There are many large leaf plants of the Amazon, including one that is a water plant.
Amazon Water Lily (Victoria amazonica)
The Amazon water lily is a water lily just like its smaller cousins--only much larger. The leaves of this lily can reach as much as 6 feet in width, according to North Carolina State University. These stunning floating rafts are edged with a rim, making them natural resting places for birds and other river wildlife. The undersides of the leaves are lined with spines and are a deep maroon color. Inside the leaves are air-filled tubes that keep them afloat, as well as a center hole that prevents rainwater from filling and sinking the leaves. The strongly scented flowers, which are also large--up to a foot across--live for three days, starting out a creamy white color which deepens to pink and finally red before the flower dies.
Raffia Palm (Raphia taedigera)
Raffia palms are known for their enormous leaves. In fact, they have the largest leaves in the world, reaching lengths of 55 feet, according to Lundkvist Palm Gardens. Only one raffia species grows in the Amazon (R. taedigera), but that one tree is highly important in terms of functionality. The long, tough stems of the leaves contain a fiber called raffia, which is used to make everything from window blinds to clothes and baskets. The leaf blades are used to thatch roofs.
Split-leaf Philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum)
Split-leaf philodendron does not climb trees in the Amazon, as many other philodendrons do, according to Floridata.com. Instead, it grows as an impressive understory shrub. The plant has large, 3-foot leaves that feature intricate cut-outs and lobes. This hardy plant can grow as tall and wide as 15 feet, but will often topple over and spread on the ground, as it grows on only one stem, or trunk. Monstera deliciosa is a very similar-looking plant of the Amazon, with equally large leaves, but it is a vine plant and is from a different genus.