Incredible Tropical Rainforest Plants to See on Your Next Vacation

jungle El Yunque national forest Puerto Rico rainforest
Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The most famous ecosystem on earth, tropical rainforests contain more than two-thirds of the world's plant species. You won't see them all on your vacation, but there are some of the most impressive.

Many of these rainforests are travel destinations in their own right, while others are best known for their proximity to popular vacation spots. You can take a break from the beaches of Puerto Rico for a tour through El Yunque, the only rainforest on a Caribbean island, or spend time in the Indonesian rainforest in Bali (in between a temple tour and a luxury spa treatment). In South America, you can take a boat up the Amazon after celebrating Carnival in Rio.

Tropical Rainforest Climate

Tropical rainforests are found near the equator, and these hot and humid biomes are collectively home to over 15 million types of plants and animals: the greatest concentration of biodiversity in the world. South America is home to the planet's largest rainforest, the Amazon. The world's second largest, in the Congo Basin, belongs to Africa. Large swaths of tropical rainforest are also located in southeast Asia. Whether tropical or temperate, all rainforests receive upwards of 60 (and sometimes as much as 160) inches of rain per year.

Top Tropical Rainforest Plants

While the animals — Javan tigers, tree sloths, and silver-backed gorillas — get more postcard inches than the plants, some of the most miraculous species that live in the world's rainforests are the flora. From towering trees to delicate orchids, vibrant Heliconia (or lobster-claw flowers) and even carnivorous pitcher plants (which can digest small mammals and reptiles in addition to insects), the sheer density and diversity of rainforest plants is just as impressive as the megafauna.

You don't have to travel far to see the fruits (literally) of tropical rainforests. The produce of these equatorial forests fill up grocery stores around the globe, from bananas and oranges to papayas and pineapple, as well as grapefruit, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, rice, peanuts, and — of course — chocolate.

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