What kind of plants grow in the tropical rainforest?

Updated April 17, 2017

Tropical rainforests provide an extremely diverse and complex habitat for flowers and plants. The combination of heat and moisture results in high moisture levels that many plants thrive in, others struggle or adapt to their situation. Many common garden plants can be found in a tropical rainforest, but close inspection reveals that their formation has changed in order for them to flourish in these extreme conditions. Light is limited inside a rainforest, so plants decay quickly; this creates the thick layer of compost present on the forest floor.


Tropical rainforests are characteristically green and herbaceous. Trees, climbers and vines all grow abundantly. Flowers are less common as the conditions can be harsh for a delicate bloom. Orchids grow in the rainforest, but instead of growing on delicate stalks like they do in America, rainforest orchids grow on tree trunks. They are referred to as non-parasitical plants, because they don't drain energy or resources from the tree. They simply grow on them in order to be stronger and more protected.

Carnivorous plants

Carnivores are an essential part of some rainforests, as they keep certain parasites and reptiles at bay. Similar to the Venus flytrap but far bigger, the Nepenthes rafflesiana is the most common rainforest carnivore. This enormous plant grows up to 15 metres tall, with a 40-centimetre pitcher to trap passing animals. They tempt animals in with their alluring, sweet smell; the sticky centre makes it hard for the animals to escape, then the pitcher closes up, trapping the animal inside. The plant then dissolves the animals with its liquids.


Ninety per cent of the world's vines grow inside tropical rainforets. The vines that grow in these extreme conditions are called Lianas. They grow thousands of metres long and are as thick as a tree trunk. They start growing on the rainforest floor, but soon wind their way up the trees around them. They need sunlight to survive, so once they reach the sunlight, they spread across the top of the trees, creating the canopy effect noticeable in most rainforests.


A cousin to the pineapple, Bromeliads are waxy plants that grow on the rainforest floor. They are dense, and their centre holds water much like a bowl. Each Bromeliad can hold several litres of water. Small animals such as frogs, salamanders and snails live inside the delicate ecosystem that the hard leaves create. The animals are protected and warm, but when they die, the plant absorbs the nutrients from the corpse.

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About the Author

Roxy Freeman has been writing professionally since 2006. She has written for "The Guardian," "The Daily Mail" and "YOU." She also works as a ghostwriter for authors. Freeman holds a National Certificate Training Journalists award from Brighton Journalist Works and a Bachelor of Arts in European politics from The Open University.