Plant and animal adaptations in the rainforest


Epiphytes are flowering plants which grow on tree trunks and branches to get light

Plants grow thick leaves with drip tips and waxy surfaces to allow water to drain quickly to prevent rotting.

Some plants called 'epiphytes' are flowering plants which grow on tree trunks and branches to get light. They get food from the air and water, and their roots hang in the air, eg orchids.

Carnivorous plants are meat-eating plants that attract insects using smelly nectar and then trap them.

Wide buttress roots around the base of a tree

Rainforest soils are poor and most nutrients are in the top layers, so roots are generally shallow. Wide buttress roots join the tree far up and help to support it. They also allow it to gather more nutrients.


Only a small percentage of the animals live on the forest floor. Many live in the trees. It is thought that in the Amazon rainforest there are over 2,000 species of birds and 1,500 species of fish. There is also thought to be 50,000 kinds of insects in a single square mile.

Indigenous people washing vegetables in the Amazon rainforest

People are an important part of the rainforest. The indigenous people live in traditional ways in harmony with the environment. They live in groups called tribes. There are around 400 tribes in the Amazon rainforest. Each one has a unique culture and way of living and they have learnt to harvest food and resources from the forest in a sustainable way. They are also hunter-gatherers.