When most people think of evergreens, they think of pine trees, but the word evergreen means that the trees keep their leaves year-round. The majority of tropical plants are evergreen. Tropical soil is characteristically low in nutrients, and evergreen trees are well-suited to low nutrient soils. It's no surprise that so many of them find their way to the rainforest.
The miracle fruit is an extraordinary plant that is native to the tropical areas of western Africa. Bushes are up to 18 feet high in their native habitat, but are generally much smaller when they are grown domestically. Their long, narrow leaves are dark green, and they bear tiny white flowers that turn into red berries.
It's the berries that give the miracle fruit its name. When eaten, the berries leave a film over the inside of the mouth and the tongue. This film protects the taste buds from the sourness of foods such as lemons, and changes the taste of other foods. Some people say that beer even takes on the taste of a milkshake.
Miracle fruits are a rare plant, even though they can be grown in home gardens. It's recommended that they are grown in a pot, and be well shielded from cold. In their natural habitat, the miracle fruits are found in some of the hottest parts of the west Africa tropics.
Cordylines are a hardy species of evergreen that grow in a number of tropical and subtropical areas, including parts of Asia, Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and islands throughout the Pacific Ocean. Getting its name from the Greek kordyle (meaning clublike and referring to the heavy, thick roots that develop in maturity), cordylines come in a variety of colors from cream and white to vivid greens, reds, purples and oranges.
Unlike many tropical evergreens, some varieties of cordylines can withstand cool temperatures, windy locales and even dry spells. They are fairly low-maintenance plants to grow in a garden, and there are enough varieties that there will be something to suit almost any kind of soil, sunlight and nutrient conditions.
The Chinese hat is also known as the parasol flower or cup and saucer, getting its names from the distinctive shape of its flowers. Flowers are typically red or orange, and are one of the flowers that attract hummingbirds to feed of the nectar. The plant itself is vinelike, and usually grows climbing up another tree or, in domestic gardens, a trellis.
The vine is native to the Himalayas, and are often found in tropical lowlands in areas of full sunlight. They are extremely frost-sensitive, and require heavy watering and nutrient-rich soil.