|Trees are, of course, the most obvious plants in the forest, but there are also numerous shrubs, vines, herbs, grasses, and a variety of other plants to be found among the trees. In tropical forests, many of these plants are actually found on the trees. These smaller plants which grow high above the ground on branches or trunks are known as epiphytes, and thrive in the moist tropical rainforest.|
|Almost ten percent of all higher plants are epiphytes, and in tropical areas, miniature forests of these plants grow on the larger, horizontal tree branches. Some epiphytes even grow on other epiphytes, creating a multi-layered habitat.|
Grasses are the first plants to move into an area when the forest has been cleared. Photo by Maya Walters.
|When a forest is destroyed, the first plants that move in and repopulate the area are grasses. Most of these plants are annuals, living for only one year, and though they are hardy and opportunistic, they are easily crowded out by larger shrubs. Most also require full sunlight, and therefore can't live in the dense shade of a thick forest. Grasses have thick root systems which can make up 90% of the plant's total weight.|
[bark, wood, roots, & leaves] [flowers & pollen] [seeds, nuts, & fruit]
[tropical forests] [plant succession]
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