The Four Layers of the Rainforest

The emergent, canopy, understory and forest floor layers

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The Emergent Layer

  • This is the tallest layer of trees in the Rainforest.
  • Only few trees can break through the canopy
  • These trees have long, skinny trunks and the tops look like umbrellas.
  • The trees get the most sunlight, but also have to be protected from stong winds and harsh sunlight.
  • They are able to protect themselves by having thick, waxy leaves.
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The Canopy Layer

  • The trees in the Canopy Layer are about 100 feet tall.
  • The layer of trees act as an umbrella for the ground and lower layers.
  • The Canopy layer protects the ground from the sun and light rain.
  • Animals get their food from the leaves, flowers and fruit that grow in the canopy.
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The Understory Layer

  • The Understory Layer is hot, damp.
  • This layer has shrubs, trees, palms, and woody plants that can grow in the shade of taller trees.
  • The leaves of many plants in this layer are very large so they can absorb as much sunlight as possible.
  • These plants almost never grow higher than twelve feet.
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The Rainforest Floor

  • Very little sun reaches the Rainforest Floor.
  • There is very little vegetation because there is almost no sunlight.
  • One of the largest and oldest trees in the Rainforest is the Kapok tree.
  • It can grow over 200 feet tall!
  • (That is a very young Kapok tree in the picture to the right.)
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