Plants Adaptations

Tropical Rainforest and in Water

Tropical Rainforest

More than two thirds of the world's plant species are found in the tropical rainforests: plants that provide shelter and food for rainforest animals as well as taking part in the gas exchanges which provide much of the world's oxygen supply. Rainforest plants live in a warm humid environment that allows an enormous variation rare in more temperate climates: some like the orchids have beautiful flowers adapted to attract the profusion of forest insects.

Adaptations of Tropical Rainforest Plants

  • In drier, temperate deciduous forests a thick bark helps to limit moisture evaporation from the tree's trunk. Since this is not a concern in the high humidity of tropical rainforests, most trees have a thin, smooth bark. The smoothness of the bark may also make it difficult for other plants to grow on their surface.
  • Epiphytes are plants that live on the surface of other plants, especially the trunk and branches. They grow on trees to take advantage of the sunlight in the canopy. Most are orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and Philodendron relatives. Tiny plants called epiphylls, mostly mosses, liverworts and lichens, live on the surface of leaves.

Aquatic Plants

Thousands of plant species live in freshwater habitats around the world: along edges, on the surface, or at the bottom of shallow lakes and ponds; in temporarily flooded low areas and meadows; at seeps and springs (cienegas) in hill or montane regions; in flowing water of streams and rivers; rooted in waterlogged soils; and along any other natural or human-produced drainage system. "Freshwater wetlands" occur from below sealevel to some very lofty alpine habitats, where water may persist throughout the year or where it can be very ephemeral. Normally we classify a freshwater wetland as a place where at least half of the species found there are truly aquatic plant species.

Adaptations of Aquatic Plants

  • Various species of aquatic plants and algae have also adapted to exist in the wider parts of rivers and streams where the water is clear enough to allow sunlight to penetrate.
  • Zooplankton are microscopic organisms that live suspended in the water environment, moving via convection or wind-induced currents. Plankton live for only a short period of time; when they die they fall into the deep-water and provide food for larger animals.
  • Wetlands contain standing water and plant species that have adapted to this very moist and humid environment include pond lilies, cattails, sedges, tamarack and black spruce, cypress and gum.