Rain forests contain vast biodiversity, and when even a small part of a rain forest is impacted by humans, the loss can ripple throughout the jungle and endanger many plant and animal lives. Asia is home to a number of tropical jungles, particularly in the south of the continent. Many of Asia's beautiful and rare rain forest plants are endangered because of deforestation or illegal collecting.
The Rafflesia genus boasts 16 species of flowering plants, all of which hail from the jungles of Borneo, Sumatra and Java in Southeast Asia and Malaysia. Most flowers in the genus have been nicknamed "corpse flowers" thanks to their putrid stench, which attracts pollinating flies. All species in the genus are either endangered or threatened and are protected by law when found in national parks. The most famous of the genus is the Rafflesia arnoldii, a 3-foot-wide flower that is regarded as the largest in the world. The fleshy reddish brown flower has no roots, stems or leaves, and it lives as a parasite sucking out valuable nutrients from a host Tetrastigma vine in the jungle.
Many tree species that are native to Asia are endangered because of their fine-grained hard timber, which is ideal for building and making furniture. Black rosewood (Afzelia xylocarpa) is a flowering, crooked tree that may reach 100 feet high. The tree grows throughout tropical Asia and is endangered because of its valuable timber, as well as its bark, which can be used for tanning hides. Native to Papa New Guinea, the Himalayas and other parts of South and Southeastern Asia, Agarwood (Aquilaria spp.) is a genus notable for the resinous wood of some of its species. The resin is used for incense and oils throughout Asia. Aquilaria crassna is now an endangered species in Vietnam because of over-harvesting.
The orchid family contains thousands of species of flowering plants, many of which are found only in very specific regions of the world. Asia is home to endangered orchids such as the Paphiopedilum delenatii orchid, a species believed to be extinct until the 1990s. The rare orchid grows in shade crevasses on the Bi Dup mountain range of Southern Vietnam. Growing directly on rock or in light sand, the orchid produces a single waxy pink blossom in January. The leaves of the plant are dark green and speckled on the undersides with dark purple spots. Though endangered, the plant is collected illegally and sold to collectors.
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