Despite covering only 6 percent of the earth's surface, jungles are home to more than half of the planet's plant species. A constant warm and humid climate makes such biodiversity possible, with average temperatures ranging from 68 to 93 F, an average humidity between 77 to 88 percent, and an average annual rainfall in excess of 100 inches. Despite these climatic commonalities, the variation between plant species native to rainforests in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australasia is astounding.
Large tropical rainforests can be found in the Zaire basin in central Africa, small areas of West Africa and Madagascar. Examples of plants native to the African jungle and well-known for their commercial applications include the oil palm, mahogany, teak, walnut and okoume. Many flowering species popular with gardeners also originate from the African jungle, such as violets, orchids, lillies, protea and kniphofia.
Central and South America
The Amazon rainforest in South America is the largest single jungle habitat in the world and boasts the highest diversity of rainforest plant species. Trees native to the jungles of the Americas include varieties of buttress root, capirona, brazil nut, fig, kapok, cercropia, palms, ferns and acacias. These jungles also contain a variety of epiphytes, vines, fungi, lianas, grasses and water plants. Flowering species common to the American rainforests include varieties of bougainvillea, lillies, orchids, heliconias, aphelandra and hirtella.
East and Southeast Asia
Lush rainforests thrive in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Laos and the east coast of India. Plants native to the Asiatic jungles include varieties of bamboo, trees such as palms, kapok, mangrove and tualang, as well as edibles such as durian, pomello, fig trees and the sesame shrub. More than several hundred varieties of orchids can also be found in the jungles of Asia as well as varieties of hibiscus, ixora, the jambu and famous giant Rafflesia flower.
Australia and Oceania
Tropical rainforests flourish in northern Australia, parts of New Zealand, Pacific Island nations including Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Rarotonga as well as Papua New Guinea. Characteristic jungle trees in this region include aleocarp, laurel, oak, banyan, kauri, palms, makatea, pandanus, ferns, southern beech, houp, macadamia and niaouli. Thousands of species of flowering plants grow in the region's rainforests, including varieties of native orchids, lillies, gardenia and daisies, as well as more unusual looking flowers such as the pink-flowered euodia and hairy pittosporum.