Facts About Rainforest Plants

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Facts About Rainforest Plants
Rainforest plants grow within Mediterranean climate zone. (tropical plant image by Dagmara Czechowska from Fotolia.com)

The extreme climate conditions within the Mediterranean zone are home to a diverse population of rainforest plants. The tropical climate and heavy rainfall amounts require these plants to develop different ways of adapting within an ever-changing environment. By altering their physical structures and developing a variety of reproductive channels, rainforest plants can thrive despite the inclement conditions that characterise this region.

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Mediterranean Zones

Mediterranean zones are known for their hot, drought-like summers and temperate wet winters. These zones appear along the coastal regions of South Africa, California, Australia and most prominently within the Mediterranean Basin, according to the World Conservation Union. The Mediterranean Basin runs along the coasts of Asia, Europe and Africa and surrounds the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the harsh climate conditions, rainforest plants have evolved into a biologically diverse environment of 22,500 native plant species.

Climate

Mediterranean winters see temperatures that seldom fall below freezing; however, heavy rainfall amounts can produce ongoing variations in temperatures throughout the rainy season. These conditions create highly fertile soil environments in which bacteria and fungal growths can thrive, according to the Encyclopedia of Earth. Summer climates bring on extreme, drought conditions that are too severe for plant growth or survival. As a result, rainforest plants enter their dormancy periods during the summer months, which run from May to October, while growth periods occur during the winter months.

Plant Types

According to the Encyclopedia of Earth, rainforest environments produce four general categories of plant types--savannahs, shrub lands, woodlands and scrub lands. Savannahs are self-contained woodland ecosystems created by widely spaced trees that form an overhead canopy. Evergreen shrubs and small trees are characteristic of shrub land environments. Woodland rainforests produce hearty oak and pine tree varieties interspersed with coniferous trees, while low shrubs, herb plants and grasses make up the scrub land environments. Within each setting, rainforest plants can develop adaptations specific to their own environment.

Plant Adaptations

Climate conditions inside tropical forests can limit how much lighting is available to forest floor plants. Heavy rainfall amounts can create shallow soil environments as well according to the University of California at Davis. To survive within these conditions, rainforest plants may seek out higher elevations by growing on top of other plants or on tree trunks in order to get closer to the sun. Soil adaptations appear as modifications in plant root structures, or plants may seek out nutrient rich areas such as dead logs or merge with plants that reside in nutrient rich soils, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. To counter the effects of excessive rain and moisture, plants can develop waxy coatings on their leaves that allow water and moisture to runoff.

Pollination

Ultimately, a species' survival depends on its ability to reproduce within the varying conditions that make up a rainforest environment. Pollination methods play a significant role in a species' ability to sustain itself, according to Cartage, a science resource site. Method can vary depending on which ones work best within a particular environment. Some of the methods used include insect and animal transport of pollen grains, as well as wind transport. Another method of maintaining a species' survival involves cross-pollination with other plant types.

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