Rainforest vegetation levels

Tropical rainforests have dense vegetation. From ground level up these levels of vegetation are:

  • The shrub layer. It is dark and gloomy with very little vegetation between the trees. During heavy rainfalls this area can flood.
  • The under canopy. It is the second level up. There is limited sunlight. Saplings wait here for larger plants and trees to die, leaving a gap in the canopy which they can grow into. Woody climbers called lianas avoid having to wait for gaps by rooting in the ground and climbing up trees to get to the sunlight.
  • The canopy. This is where the upper parts of most of the trees are found. The canopy is typically about 65 to 130 feet (20 to 40 metres) tall. This leafy environment is home to insects, arachnids, birds and some mammals.
  • Emergents. These are the tops of the tallest trees in the rainforest. These are much higher, and so are able to get more light than the average trees in the forest canopy.

The graphic shows the levels of rainforest vegetation and the relative amount of sunlight that each one receives.

There are four levels of vegetation in the rainforestVegetation levels in tropical rainforest