Colours of a Biome: Tropical Rainforest Edition

We’re looking at biomes unlike you’ve ever seen them before; technicolour style! Better get your shades ready because the tropical rainforest is a brightly coloured place.

Tropical rainforest biomes are found near the equator.  These hot and wet places are known for having some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet!  Although tropical rainforests make up only about 6% of the Earth’s surface, almost half of the world’s plants and animals live among its trees.

Red Ginger (Alpinia purpurata)

Red ginger, red, Alpinia purpurata, plant, flower, ginger,
Red Ginger

Details: This national plant of Samoa grows to 13 feet tall and has oily black seeds. It can be found in several colours – red, pink and white – and has flowers that bloom throughout the year.

My Hood: It is native to islands in the South Pacific, like New Caledonia and the British Solomon Islands.

How I fit in: They can grow in the shade or partial sun and need lots of water. This makes them perfect for the tropical rainforest’s climate.

W. Arthur Whistler Tropical Ornamental: a Guide. Portland: Timber Press, 2000: Page 48

Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco)

Toco Toucan, Ramphastos toco, orange, bird, beak, tree
Toco Toucan

Details: These colourful birds are the largest members of the toucan family. They also have one of the biggest beaks in the world. Although the beak grows up to 7 ½ inches, it is filled with air pockets, making it very light. In fact, despite making up 1/3 of its total length, the Toco Toucan’s beak only accounts for 1/20 of its total weight.

My Hood: Found throughout North-eastern South America, the Toco Toucan lives in rainforest canopies, savannahs, plantations and other areas with scattered trees.

How I fit in: Toco Toucans favour this hot biome because it is home to the fleshy fruit that they love to eat. Toco Toucans are also built for the rainforest’s climate thanks to a temperature regulating system in their beak that is controlled by changing the flow of blood.

Yellow-banded Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas)

Yellow Banded Poison Dart Frog, yellow, black, frog, spots, Dendrobates leucomelas
Yellow-banded Poison Dart Frog

Details: This frog is tiny, growing no bigger than a penny. This may seem small to you but this species is actually one of the largest in its genus. What the frog doesn’t have in size, it makes up for in toughness. Its skin is covered in toxins that can pack a powerful punch!

My Hood: They are found around the bottom of wet trees and stones of the forests of Northern South America, especially Venezuela, Guyana, parts of Colombia and Brazil

How I fit in: This species’ bright colour helps warn predators that it is toxic and to keep away.

Emerald Tree Boa (Corallus caninus)

Emerald Tree Boa, green, snake, branch, Corallus caninus, stripes,
Emerald Tree Boa

Details: It may surprise you to find out that these bright green serpents aren’t born this colour. As hatchlings, they start out reddish brown before turning green as they mature. These snakes grow to be very big, as an adult they can reach up to 2.2m (7.22ft) long.

My Hood: They live within the forest canopy of the Amazon in South America

How I fit in: The Emerald Tree boa’s appearance is key to its survival. Its green and white colouring helps it hide among the trees while sleeping during the day. At night this camouflage allows the Emerald Tree boa to hide while waiting for unsuspecting animals to become dinner.

Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)

blue, butterfly, wings, shiny, rock, insect, morpho
Blue Morpho butterfly with its wings open

Details: This butterfly is one of the largest in the world, with wings that span five to eight inches. Their bright blue wings are also covered in tiny light reflecting scales.

My Hood: You can find them on the forest floor and understory of the rainforest ranging from Colombia to Mexico.

brown, butterfly, tree, insect, morpho, wings
Blue Morpho butterfly with its wings closed

How I fit in: The shiny blue on their wings comes in handy for protection. Blue Morphos will flutter their wings to create flashes of light, which scares away predators. To hide, they can simply close their wings, revealing a dull brown pattern that allows them to blend into their surroundings.

Paper Flower (Bougainvillea glabra)

purple, flower, white, plant, bougainvillea glabra
Paper Flower Photo Credit: Carsten Niehaus

Details: These beautiful flowers grow on trees and vines. They can grow to over 30ft or be trimmed down and used for bonsai.  Its flowers usually grow in winter and early spring.

My Hood: Paper flowers are native to Brazil but found in other tropical countries.

How I fit in: This plant needs lots of water and sun, both of which can be found in the rainforest biome. It thrives in wet conditions because it does not hold moisture well. It also needs tall plants to cling to so it can grow higher and capture more sunlight.

More splashes of colourful biomes are coming your way soon. In the meantime, find out more about biomes and what types can be found on Earth. Up next: the desert!

To learn more about the rainforest biome check out these links

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