|Slightly larger plants, including bushes and shrubs, are perennial, which means they live for many years instead of only one like the annuals. These plants usually have thicker, woody branches, with flowers forming in clusters on the outer branches so they are visible and accessible to pollinating insects. Leaves grow at an angle on most shrubs so they get the best possible exposure to sunlight. Most of the smaller shrubs need full sunlight and are not adapted for dense forests.||
Vines growing in a forest on Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Maya Walters.
Trees have an elaborate and complex structure. The tree grows using the compounds created in their leaves, which take in carbon dioxide and water, and combine them using energy from sunlight. The water is brought to the leaves through the trunk, an impressively tall and slender cylinder that is both sturdy but flexible enough to support the tree during high winds. The trunk is supported by the roots, a vast branching network that can extend farther underground than the height of the trunk. The tree is protected by bark, which also helps to keep wood-boring insects out.
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|Almost all vines live in forests simply because they require trees for support. They are most common in tropical forests, and the trees here are often covered with these living ropes. Vines do not belong to any particular family of plants; many unrelated species have evolved to grow in this manner. Vines grow quickly because they use no energy for thick, supportive stalks; instead they hold themselves up by entwining stems around, or clinging onto, the branches of trees. Certain vines can also grow horizontally along the ground, and are therefore not limited to forest habitats.|
[bark, wood, roots, & leaves] [flowers & pollen] [seeds, nuts, & fruit]
[insects] [tropical forests]
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