Tropical rainforests are known for being full of life. Whether you're captivated by the calls of colourful birds, mesmerised by hypnotically patterned cats, or fascinated by the apparently infinite variety of invertebrate life, you still have to acknowledge that what makes a rainforest are the plants. A forest is by definition a collection of trees, but there is a whole lot more to plant life in a rainforest. Coating every surface, including the trees themselves, are more plants. Some of these we would as surface-covering vegetation in temperate environments as well, like the mosses and liverworts that coat stone walls or the dandelions that poke their sunny faces out between cracks in the concrete. However, there are plants which in the rainforest we see making other plants their hosts that we are far more used to seeing with other life styles. Cacti and ferns, for instance, can be found growing on other plants, as well as aroids (think peace and Easter lillies), bromeliads and orchids.
December 29, 2016
This post was originally published under the title "Water Worlds" in the December 2016 issue of The Biologist, the Royal Society of Biology's magazine. If you're a member of the RSB you can also view the article on their website here.