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Kinds of Trees in a Tropical Rainforest

rainforest image by Egor Ukoloff from

The tropical biome, according to Radford University, is the most complex of the planet's biomes because of its structure and diversity of flora and fauna species. Of all of the diverse and exotic plant life of the world's tropical regions, some of the most interesting are the trees. Tropical rainforests throughout the world host a seemingly endless variety of trees of all sizes. Some of the trees are threatened species and some produce ingredients that are exported throughout the world for a variety of applications.

Brazil Nut Tree

Cutted giant tree image by Christian Renner from

The Brazil nut tree, possibly one of the most economically important trees in the Amazon rainforest, produces the edible Brazil nut and the material known as latex, which is used all over the world in an endless array of products. An astonishingly massive tree, the Brazil nut tree towers over the canopy of the Amazon rainforest in the area of what is called the Emergent Layer. Harvesting of the Brazil nut tree poses very little threat to the environment in that its materials often are gathered from fallen limbs and debris. It is also a thriving tree species with no signs of endangerment. It's identified by its greyish, smooth bark and brittle, olive green leaves. The Brazil nut tree can thrive for more than 1,000 years.

Pterocarpus Tree

Based at the very bottom layer of tropical forests, the Pterocarpus displays one noticeable difference from other tree species. The odd characteristic of Pterocarpus is that its roots grow above the surface of the ground. The interesting root structure of the tree sprawls along the floor of rain forests sucking nutrients from the humus-rich topsoil. These buttressed roots often become hosts to vining plants that attach to the roots for nourishment. The foliage of the tree resembles rose bush leaves. The wood is reddish brown and fades as the tree ages. Found in the Amazon region naturally, the pterocarpus tree has been introduced to other tropical regions in the U.S. and Asia.

Strangler Fig Tree

Also referred to as the golden fig, the strangler fig tree proves to be an invasive plant in tropical forests in coastal areas such as Florida. The strangler fig starts out as a seed that lodges itself into cracks and crevices of other trees. The parasitic plant then sprouts air roots to suck nourishment from its host as they grow toward the floor of the rainforest, where they become anchored deeply. Once the roots have spread deep into the ground, the strangler fig tree lives up to its name by literally encasing its host and dominating its root structure, ultimately killing it. Found in tropical Asia, the Amazon rain forest and the Congo, the strangler fig displays a series of gnarled, grey-brown, above-ground roots, and the foliage only blooms near the canopy of forests. The foliage is green, wispy and comparative to bamboo leaves. Like many large, slow-growing trees, the strangler fig can survive for hundreds of years.

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