Árvores da Amazônia

The phrase “the lungs of our planet” is increasingly used to describe the Amazon Rainforest, both among the people of South America as well as globally. The phrase refers to the significant amount of oxygen produced by the trees and other plant life of the Amazon.

The Amazon basin and South America have a vast array of incredible trees. The bark, leaves, seeds, sap, roots, and fruit have been used by indigenous people for thousands of years for medicinal and many other uses. More recently, western medicine has begun using some parts of trees to treat a variety of diseases.

Almost 400 billion trees belonging to 16,000 different species grow in the Amazon rainforest, according to scientists from the RAINFOR consortium in Peru and the UK, who participated in the recent study published in Science magazine. But half the total number of trees are thought to belong to just 227 ‘hyperdominant’ species, among them the rubber tree, the walking palm and the ungurahui tree.

Here is a list of some of the trees in the Amazon rainforest with links to the Wikipedia articles.

A to Z of Amazon trees


Q & A’s Trees

What defines a tree?
In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height. In looser senses, the taller palms, the tree ferns, bananas and bamboos are also trees. Trees tend to be long-lived, some reaching several thousand years old. The tallest known tree, a coast redwood named Hyperion, stands 115.6 m (379 ft) high. Trees have been in existence on the Earth for 370 million years. Trees are not a taxonomic group but include a variety of plant species that have independently evolved a woody trunk and branches as a way to tower above other plants to compete for sunlight.

A tree typically has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground by the trunk. This trunk typically contains woody tissue for strength, and vascular tissue to carry materials from one part of the tree to another. For most trees it is surrounded by a layer of bark which serves as a protective barrier. Below the ground, the roots branch and spread out widely; they serve to anchor the tree and extract moisture and nutrients from the soil. Above ground, the branches divide into smaller branches and shoots. The shoots typically bear leaves, which capture light energy and convert it into sugars by photosynthesis, providing the food for the tree’s growth and development. Flowers and fruit may also be present, but some trees, such as conifers, instead have pollen cones and seed cones; others, such as tree ferns, produce spores instead.

Trees play a significant role in reducing erosion and moderating the climate. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store large quantities of carbon in their tissues. Trees and forests provide a habitat for many species of animals and plants. Tropical rainforests are one of the most biodiverse habitats in the world. Trees provide shade and shelter, timber for construction, fuel for cooking and heating, and fruit for food as well as having many other uses. In parts of the world, forests are shrinking as trees are cleared to increase the amount of land available for agriculture.

What is a forest?
A forest is a large area of land covered with trees or other woody vegetation. Hundreds of more precise definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological function According to the widely-used. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation definition, forests covered an area of four billion hectares (15 million square miles) or approximately 30 percent of the world’s land area in 2006.
Forests are the dominant terrestrial ecosystem of Earth, and are distributed across the globe. Forests account for 75% of the gross primary productivity of the Earth’s biosphere, and contain 80% of the Earth’s plant biomass.

What is a tropical forest?
A tropical rainforest is an ecosystem type that occurs roughly within the latitudes 28 degrees north or south of the equator (in the equatorial zone between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn). This ecosystem experiences high average temperatures and a significant amount of rainfall. Rainforests can be found in Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico and on many of the Pacific, Caribbean, and Indian Ocean islands. Within the World Wildlife Fund’s biome classification, tropical rainforests are a type of tropical wet forest (or tropical moist broadleaf forest) and may also be referred to as lowland equatorial evergreen rainforest.

What is the forest floor?
The forest floor, the bottom-most layer, receives only 2% of the sunlight. Only plants adapted to low light can grow in this region. Away from riverbanks, swamps and clearings, where dense undergrowth is found, the forest floor is relatively clear of vegetation because of the low sunlight penetration.

Forest floor
Forest floor

What is the canopy?

The canopy layer contains the majority of the largest trees, typically 30 metres (98 ft) to 45 metres (148 ft) tall. The densest areas of biodiversity are found in the forest canopy, a more or less continuous cover of foliage formed by adjacent treetops. The canopy, by some estimates, is home to 50 percent of all plant species. Epiphytic plants attach to trunks and branches, and obtain water and minerals from rain and debris that collects on the supporting plants. The fauna is similar to that found in the emergent layer, but more diverse. A quarter of all insect species are believed to exist in the rainforest canopy. Scientists have long suspected the richness of the canopy as a habitat, but have only recently developed practical methods of exploring it.


Canopy in Peru
Canopy in Peru

source Wikipedia