Trees of the Rainforest Canopy

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Rainforest canopy holds the world's most diverse species of trees. Containing both deciduous and coniferous varieties, over 2,500 different species of trees live in rainforests around the world. Rainforest trees vigorously compete for light, nutrition and water, the most successful of which grow higher than 350 feet. Four popular and well known rainforest trees that stand tall in the canopy are: giant redwoods, kapok trees, para rubber trees and cecropia trees.

Redwood Tree

  • Giant coniferous redwood trees grow in the temperate rainforest found in the Pacific west coast. Hyperion, a redwood tree found by California researchers in Redwood National Park, is the world's tallest tree, measuring a majestic height of more than 375 feet. Redwood trees develop the largest amount of living matter in relation to land area. Redwood trees draw floods of tourists and are now protected within National Park space. The redwood trees require thousands of gallons of water each day, and when water is scarce they make their own fog by sucking out moisture from the high altitudes. The oldest redwood trees grow for more than 2,000 years.

Kapok Tree

  • The kapok tree is a giant seen in the rainforests of southern Mexico and the northern Amazon, reaching heights of 200 feet. These trees, often growing 13 feet each year, have massive trunks that expand to 10 feet in diameter. The kapok tree is a master of spreading its seeds. During the dry months it sheds its deciduous leaves into the wind, sending each one with a seedling. During rainy months each kapok tree produces between 500 and 4,000 fruits, each containing 200 seeds. These fruits provide sustenance to many animals that return the favor by spreading the seedlings each fruit contains. And when fruits go uneaten they burst open, spreading valuable seedlings on the forest floor nearby.

Para Rubber Tree

  • The para rubber tree is native the South American rainforest but has been planted for exploit in African and Asian tropical climates. This tree grows 100 feet and secretes a white latex substance through the vessels in its bark that's made into rubber, hence the name. The trees are tapped multiple times each year, usually in the early morning when the latex substance flows most fluidly, to make rubber. The quality of the substance improves as the tree ages, so plantations have a vested interest in growing them to be old and healthy.

Cecropia Tree

  • Over 100 cecropia tree species exist in the world, but many of them share similar characteristics. They growing exceedingly fast and aggressively, dominating most of the plant life around them. Saplings grow in all directions in search of a light source. As a result, mature trees often appear bending and curving taking up as much space as possible to maximize their spot in the sun. These trees grow in the high alpine rainforests of western South America. Most notably, cecropia trees are pioneering species, often the first to appear in young rain forests.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
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