|A fern unfurls its fiddlehead.|
|Fungus growing in the Kanukus.|
Tired of chasing after flying bats and elusive cats? Frustrated with the butterfly that got away? Then plants in the rainforest might be just the thing for you. These colorful plants are just a few examples of the rich diversity you can find throughout the tropics.
This fern makes its fiddlehead, ready to curl out a new leaf. The term fiddlehead was coined because it looks similar to the spiral end of a violin or fiddle. Usually the ends of a fern look like a fiddlehead for about two weeks before they unfold. Some fern species have fiddleheads that are rich in nutrients and can be eaten by humans. The flavor is supposed to resemble a cross between asparagus, green bean, and okra.
LEARN MORE: Our planet’s ecological health is inextricably linked to human well-being.
Don't be tricked! Fungus and mushrooms aren't really plants, but you can often find them growing out of decaying logs. Fungi do not have the capability to produce chlorophyll, which is the green pigment in plants that helps produce food (starch) in the leaves. Instead, fungi are classified under a group of organisms called saprophytes, which means they get their nutrients from dead plant and/or animal matter.
Heliconia are plants that inspired me to go into the tropical sciences.
Heliconia are plants that inspired me to go into the tropical sciences. Bright red heliconia flowers are scattered throughout the forest and most can be found in moist or wet regions at elevations below 1500 feet. The most common pollinator of the heliconia flower is a hummingbird, but fruit bats have also been known to help in the pollination process.
ARTICLE: Thank a Pollinator
When looking at a heliconia one will notice the beautiful red section called a bract, which is a special leaf that covers the flowers. The combination of the flowers and bracts form a structure called an inflorescence. Sometimes the bracts are large enough to house tiny frogs.
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