Plants & Food Products of the Rainforest


Rainforests are home to millions of plants and animals and are found circling the globe along the equator. Many of us have never been to a rainforest and instead live thousands of miles away from them. Because we are not inhabitants of these dense, tropical forests, it is easy to forget that the rainforests provide the people of the world with a bounty of fruits, vegetables and other products. From basic nutritional value to lifesaving medicinal qualities, it is easy to see how important the plants and food products of the rainforest are to the people of the world.

Rainforests offer an abundance of plants and food products.
(new zealand rainforest image by Spencer Stoner from

The produce section at the grocery store is filled largely with products that come from the rainforest. According to the Rainforest Alliance, it is the rainforest that "regularly saves our global food supply by offering new, disease-resistant crops." Common fruits include oranges, pineapple, avocado, coconut, lemons, bananas, grapefruit, guava, and tomatoes. Common vegetables found in the rainforest are corn, sweet potatoes, okra, peppers and winter squash.

Bowl filled with okra
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No matter what kind of food you are in the mood for, it is quite likely to be seasoned with spices found in the rainforest. Common flavors include allspice, black pepper (whole and ground), cardamom, cayenne (red pepper), chili pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, paprika and tumeric. The rainforest is also home to chocolate and vanilla. Many of these spices can be found in other parts of the world now, but the rainforest is one of the originating sources as well as one of the largest suppliers.

Stack of chocolate squares
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The rainforest offers an abundance of those wonderful snack products we know as nuts. Most commonly found in the rainforest are brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, and macadamia nuts. The rainforest provides countless other forms of food products as well. Some of the most popular items are coffee, tea, fish, sugar, beans, grains, and oils.

Coffee beans on tree
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You can find more than 60 percent of the world's plant species in the rainforest. Some commonly known plants that you may also find in people's homes are poinsettia (the red Christmas flower), bromeliads (related to pineapple- look like the green stem on top of the pineapple, but bromeliads are usually red or pink in color), orchids, begonias, ferns, African violets and Venus flytraps.

Venus flytrap
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As of January 2011, according to, the rainforest provides sources for 25 percent of all medicines. Of the plants found to have anti-cancer properties, 70 percent of them are only found in the rainforest. The Madagascar Periwinkle was once found in the rainforest but is now extinct in the wild because of deforestation. This plant increased the survival rate for children with Leukemia from 20 to 80 percent.

Trees in rainforest
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