|Huge variations in leaf shape between different plants are obvious, and there are also huge variations in patterns of leaf arrangement. Trees that grow in open meadows and clearings have much more light available and their small leaves seem to be arranged almost at random. These leaves are usually notched or lobed and not spaced very thickly on the branches. This means that each layer of branches doesn't cast much of a shadow, allowing more light to reach lower branches of the tree. In deep shade, however, trees have leaves arranged in a more definite pattern, with larger leaves growing towards the ground where almost all of the sunlight has been filtered out by higher branches.||
A close-up of the texture on a backlit hazlenut tree leaf. Photo by Maya Walters.
|Different types of forests have very different numbers and types of plants. Tropical rainforests have the most diverse plant communities of any habitat. Several hundred species of trees can exist in a small area of tropical rainforest, compared to one species of tree which can dominate the same amount of area in a boreal forest. The groundcover in rainforests is sparse because the thick tree canopy blocks most of the light, while in a temperate coniferous woodland, the trees are spaced far apart with large open spaces where grasses grow.||
[bark, wood, roots, & leaves] [flowers & pollen] [seeds, nuts, & fruit]
[tropical forests] [boreal forest] [temperate forest] [coniferous forests] [biodiversity]
view the condensed version of the plants article for faster printing/reading
return to the forest life article