Field of Science

Rainforest Field Trip - Lianas

The Phactor is taking a break from packing up our field gear to enjoy his cocktail hour because today is our last day at the field station. The trek back to the December realities of the Northern Temperate zone will begin tomorrow, and the sudden 50 degree F shift in temperature and decompressing from nearly 100% humidity to cold, dry air is a shock to the system as is the absence of the earthy vegetational odor that permeates this place. So time to post one more rainforest biology blog then on the road again.
Another feature of rainforest communities are life forms uncommon in the temperate zone. Here in the rainforest epiphytes and lianas, woody vines, festoon the forest in great profusion. Some of these lianas reach considerable size and their load can sometimes overwhelm the tree breaking their support. Further lianas commonly survive the fall of their support tree and start over again climbing another tree. Often only fallen fruits, seeds, and flowers are the only clue to vines far above in the canopy. Virtually every woody stem that can be seen in this image are lianas. Lastly lianas are a life form not a taxonomic group, and many different organisms in many different plant families grow as lianas. In fact one of the lianas in this view is the broad-leafed gymnosperm Gnetum.

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