The Amazon Rainforest is the largest tropical jungle in the world, covering eight different countries across South America. It is one of the most biodiverse locations in the world. In fact, 20% of the world’s natural forest is in the Amazon Jungle.
With such impressive biodiversity, covering such a large space you can just imagine how much plant life lives here.
To give you a good idea, there are well over 60,000 unique species of plants that call the Amazon Rainforest home. With such an enormous variety of plant life on offer, it is almost impossible to know what plants grow here and what you are looking at.
If you have a passion for plants and want to increase your knowledge about Amazon’s plants, you’re in the right place.
Although it’s impossible to list them all, we have put together a long list of the most beautiful, weird, and unique plants you can find in the Amazon. This list should give you a better understanding of what grows and how different plants are used.
Without further ado let’s dive into the article.
Giant Water Lily
The first plant on our list is the giant water lily. A common sight in the Amazon Rainforest, the giant water lily is named after Queen Victoria.
The most notable feature of this plant is its sheer size. Sitting on top of the water this water lily can grow up to 10 feet in diameter and hold over 50lbs of weight.
This alien-looking species of tropical plant was once referred to as the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ. The reason for this is the plants’ colorful layers of petals and thorn-like rings.
It is a perennial vine that usually has white, purple, and orange flowers. The passion flower symbolizes the crucifixion of Christ and is commonly used to help with sleep.
The rubber tree has a rich history in the Amazon thanks to its commercial value. This tall plant is used in the production of latex. The sap from the tree continues to be used today.
Once endemic to the Amazon Rainforest, during the Rubber Boom era, many people smuggled the seed of this plant into Southeast Asia illegally.
Orchids are one of the most diverse plant families around and they grow in abundance in the Amazon Rainforest. Their delicate and very vibrant flowers vary massively in shape and size but one thing is always certain. They are always totally loved by us.
Orchids have such a pleasant fragrant smell you will probably smell them in the rainforest before you see them. The most popular orchid is the vanilla orchid which has a unique vanilla flavor.
Lianas are woody vines that climb the rainforest. Growing in bushes, trees, and shrubs the lianas plant can grow to an enormous length of 650ft, some growing even longer as they connect trees and plants together.
Starting on the forest floor, it doesn’t take long for these thick, fast-growing vines to take over the jungle. Some Amazonian communities use the lianas for drinking water. Others use it as a source of poison.
The heliconia plant is one of the more vibrant plant species found in the Amazon. Also known by the name “lobster claw” it has one of the most colorful flowers in the treetop canopy.
Growing in clusters, the lobster claw-shaped flowers, hence the name “lobster claw”, have a wonderfully unique shape and color that makes them easy to identify. Hummingbirds usually use this plant as a nest.
This plant grows on the ground in the Amazon Rainforest. They are easy to recognize thanks to their bright colors and prickly exterior. Though you might never have heard of the bromeliad plant before, you will definitely recognize its fruit.
The flower of the bromeliad plant produces the pineapple. One weird and wonderful fact about this pineapple plant is that the leaves have adapted their shape to create a makeshift water tank that holds up to 7 liters of water.
Monkey Brush Vines
Found deep within the jungle the flower on this plant has unique characteristics that make it look like a super vibrant brush.
The plant itself is a parasitic vine that thrives once it has attached itself to other plants in the jungle. If you are lucky enough to see this plant keep your eyes peeled. Iguanas love to rest on the vine. The vine also acts as a natural food source for a variety of birds.
The strangler fig is arguably the most iconic plant in the Amazon Rainforest. It is the name given to a number of vine species that engulf and strangle the large trees of the jungle. The strangler fig will start as small seeds deposited along branches.
They then delicately grow towards the ground. Once on the forest floor, they begin to swell, completely engulfing the host, taking nutrients and more often than not killing the original tree. Growing for over 200 years this plant then replaces the original tree with an even bigger one.
Also known by the name Ceiba, the kapok tree is one of the largest in the jungle. With its wide, thick trunk and strong roots, it towers over the Amazon Rainforest canopy.
The tree is home to a range of animal species that live in the bark and small nooks and crannies. The lightweight nature of this tree’s wood makes it a great choice for locals who use it for the base of their river canoes.
We probably don’t need to say too much about this plant as you can probably already guess what it’s used for.
Growing up to approximately 30 feet tall, the coffee plant loves parts of the jungle that stretch across Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador. The plant produces small red berries. Inside these red berries is where the coffee beans are found.
On the topic of plants with high commercial value can you guess what this plant is famous for? If you guessed chocolate you’re right.
The tall cacao tree produces large pods. Within the reddish-brown pods is a bitter, earthy flesh we later turn into everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure. As well as chocolate production this plant is also an Amazonian superfood.
The hot lips plant is very noticeable thanks to its bright red flowers that, yep, you guessed it look just like a pair of lips. Found in South and Central America the flower on this plant serves the same purpose as a true flower.
They attract various animals that drink their nectar before collecting pollen and moving on. The plant is also regularly used to treat fevers.
We can’t write a list of Amazonian plants and not include the banana tree. The banana tree is a huge herb that springs up from an underground stem.
Growing up to 20 feet high each trunk of the banana tree bears one bunch of the delicious yellow fruit we all enjoy. Once the plant has been harvested it is cut so the process can start again.
Acai palms consist of up to 8 thin gray-brown stems, with each one growing to roughly 82 feet tall and only 8 inches wide. At the end of each leafy stem are bunches of juicy acai berries that have a sweet, yet earthy flavor. It is not only the berries on this plant that are eaten.
The palms are also harvested for their inner core. This core is referred to as the “heart of palm”. It is used in a variety of different dishes.
The water lettuce can be seen up and down the Amazon River. They are floating plants that have a root hanging underneath in the water. Reproducing rapidly they get their name as a result of looking just like a piece of lettuce.
They are seen as a nuisance in the river because they block sunlight which is important to the plant life and animals that live below. They have various medical uses and are also good fodder for cattle.
Camu Camu Plant
Camu camu plants are best known for the camu camu fruit. The fruit on this plant is a small tarty citrus fruit commonly used as an ingredient in smoothies.
Thanks to its high levels of vitamin C it also boosts general health and can be used to improve skin and treat viral infections. The plant itself is a small shrub that grows near rivers and lakes.
As you can see from this list there are a huge variety of different plants in the Amazon Rainforest. They all look very different but they all play an important role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of the rainforest and its inhabitants.
One thing that may have surprised you with our list is how many things there are that we rely on from the jungle. Chocolate, bananas, and coffee all come from the Amazon. Without it, we wouldn’t have some of our favorite things.
Whilst other plants may not be as important to us, to the local Amazonian communities they can be vital. Some plants provide wood used to build boats, whilst others are a good source of food or medicine.
Now you’ve read our list it’s time to do some more research of your own. We have barely scratched the surface so why don’t you now head out and find even more plants from the Amazon so you can improve your knowledge of this wonderful tropical landscape.
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