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Africa

African Rainforest- Vegetation

Rainforest covers a mere 6 percent of the worlds land mass, yet contains a more varied plant, insect, and animal life than other remaining 94 percent. In addition, the rainforest provides more than 20 percent of the worlds oxygen, and 80 percent of the world’s basic foods (“Passport to the Rainforest”). The plant life contributing to these statistics is a particularly interesting aspect of the climate zone, namely those plants indigenous to Africa. The African rainforest is composed of many layers containing thousands of exotic plants, many of which are close to extinction, or that offer valuable medical considerations.

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The African rainforest is a composite of many different plants, living at varying heights simultaneously. The highest layer of the rainforest is the emergent layer. Here trees tower 200 feet or more from the forest floor. Plant life at these heights mostly consists of hardwood evergreens. The Canopy is the next highest level, consisting of plants from 60 to 90 feet off the ground. Plant life is extremely varied at this level, but consists manly of top-heavy trees with tight leaf formations near the upper 90 percent of the trunk. In addition to trees there are many vines and other “air plants,” that do not touch the ground, but entwine themselves in canopy tree branches and trunks. Below the Canopy is the Understory. Plants in this layer receive little light, and as a result rarely grow above 12 feet from the forest floor. These plants mostly consist of shrubs, bushes, and dwarfish trees. The final level in the rainforest is the forest floor. Here there is little to no growth due to an almost complete lack of light. Most plant life in this level consist of the remains of fallen trees, root systems from plants in various other levels, and fruits and berries fallen from higher up plants. Thousands of plant varieties have very different existences in the extremely varied layers of the A…

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