A rainforest is a forest that gets lots and lots of rain—over 200 inches a year!
Some rainforests get as much as 400 inches of rain a year! It is always warm in the rainforest, too.
Most of the time the temperature in the rainforest is about 90 o F.
Some people think that jungles and rainforests are the same, but they aren’t. A rainforest is covered by tall trees. The tall trees let the sun in, but at the same time, keep the ground and smaller trees and bushes underneath moist and warm.
The tall trees which cover the top of the rainforest are called the canopy. This warm moisture is called humidity. A jungle does not have a cover of trees on top. It is open to the sunshine and is not as humid as a rainforest.
There are actually two different types of rainforests; tropical and temperate. Because a tropical rainforest needs a lot of rain and warm weather, most can be found near the equator. The equator is the imaginary line in the middle of the earth that separates the northern hemisphere from the southern hemisphere.
Countries near the equator do not have cold winters like most of us do. Tropical rainforests are located all over the world in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and South America.
The process of germination
If you have ever planted a seed, you know how exciting it is to see the plant that comes from that seed break through the soil. Have you ever thought about how it happens? Let’s find out!
When you plant seeds in some soil, it is important to keep the soil watered (not too much). The reason this is so important is that the seeds you plant need to be able to take in oxygen and minerals from the soil and water through the seed coat’s tiny pores (holes) to give the inside of the seed the food it needs to break open and make its way through the soil so it can grow into a plant.
Temperate rainforests need lots and lots of rain but can stand colder temperatures. This means they do not have to be near the equator. Temperate rainforests are found in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Chile, and even in western North America.
Temperate rainforests are not always as warm as tropical rainforests, but they are still very humid.
The largest rainforest in the world is the Amazon Rainforest.
Fun Facts About the Amazon Rainforest
- There are over 40,000 different types of plants in the Amazon Rainforest
- Almost half of the earth’s rainfall happens and is stored in the Amazon Rainforest
- The Amazon Rainforest covers over 1 BILLION acres. Most of it is in the country of Brazil, but it also takes in part of the countries of Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana, Bolivia, Suriname, and French Guiana.
- Many dangerous animals live in the Amazon Rainforest—including anacondas!
- There are over 2,000 different kinds of butterflies living in the Amazon Rainforest
- If the Amazon Rainforest were a country, it would be the 9th largest country in the world.
- It’s home to millions of bugs, animals, and plants that have not been discovered by people yet.
- Depends upon the weather and the atmosphere for survival
- Has been invaded by people. People have destroyed parts of the rainforest to build factories, communities and to capture the animals and take the plants that live there.
- Is in danger of being ruined if people are not careful to treat them right.
- Makes it possible for us to breathe. That is because of all the plants in a rainforest, 28% of the earth’s oxygen is respired (breathed out) by the plants in the world’s rainforests.
- Helps to keep us well. Over 25% of all the medicines we use come from plants that were discovered in the rainforest.
- The periwinkle plant found in a rainforest has been used to make the best medicines we have to help people with cancer.
- Bamboo plants grow about 9 inches every single day in the rainforest.
- The plants and trees in the rainforests take in extra carbon dioxide and store it for making food. This also makes the air we breathe healthier and cleaner for us.
Some of the unique things about other rainforests make them very special places.
- Nearly all the flowers in Australia’s rainforest are so rare that they cannot be found anywhere else in the entire world.
- There are over 8,000 different plants in the South African Rainforest that do not grow anywhere else.
- Temperate rainforests found in North America
A Whole Other World
The very top layer of trees in the rainforest is called the emigrant. These are the trees that tower above the more even layer of the canopy. Many birds and insects call the emigrant home.
The next layer is the canopy. The canopy of a rainforest can be up to 130 feet tall. This means there are 130 feet from the tops of the trees under the canopy to the top of the canopy. A rainforest canopy is a home to thousands of different kinds of birds, spiders, bugs, snakes and mammals—including the howler monkey. Everything they need to exist is right there. They never touch the ground. The canopy is also made up of moss and thick, leafy vines that twist and twirl among the trees.
Below the Canopy
Once you get through the canopy of the rainforest, the next layer is called the understory. The understory is made of smaller trees, bushes, shrubs, vines, thousands of different plants. The understory is home to millions of bugs, spiders, snakes, and other animals like leopards and jaguars.
The bottom of the rainforest is called the forest floor. The floor of the rainforest is dark and wet. Only 2% of the sunshine a rainforest gets makes its way through the other layers to reach the floor. This means very little grows on the floor of the rainforest. It is mostly covered in dead plant matter. This plant matter rots into the soil to make it full of vitamins and minerals that can be used by the roots of the trees and plants reaching up from the floor of the rainforest to keep them strong, healthy and beautiful.
The rainforest…it’s a pretty amazing place, wouldn’t you say?