Rainforest Plants Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lisa Hanson

Lisa is a Continuous Improvement Coach for her school district and has taught in elementary school for many years. She has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

Ever wonder what kind of plants live in rainforests? From chocolate beans to bananas, cork trees to a corpse flower - rainforests are home to more than half of the world's plants and animals. This lesson will tell you more!

What Are Rainforests?

A rainforest is a large, thick forest found in tropical areas that receive more than 100 inches of rain a year. They are important to us because more than two-thirds of all plant species grow in rainforests and they provide about 20% of the world's oxygen. There are four layers to the rainforest, each with its own unique plants.

Emergent Level

The emergent layer is the very top layer of a rainforest. It's the brightest layer because it gets the most sunlight, and trees can grow up to 180-200 feet!

Kapok Tree

Kapok trees are giant trees that often grow more than 200 feet tall. That's like a 20-floor building! They can grow up 13 feet a year and their trunks can be 10 feet across. Their white and pink flowers attract bats, which help with pollination. The oils from this tree can be used for things like medicine and soap.

Brazil Nut Tree

The Brazil nut tree reaches heights over 160 feet. The fruit it produces are the size of baseballs and can weigh up to 5 pounds. When fruit falls, it can reach speeds of 50 miles per hour! Inside the fruit are 10-20 nuts that many people use for food. Brazil nut oils are used for beauty products.

Canopy Layer

The canopy layer is the second layer of the rainforest. It is a thick layer of branches and vines that act like a roof over the forest to protect the rest of the forest from getting flooded.

Rubber Tree

Rubber trees are found in the canopy. These quick-growing trees can reach heights of 100-130 feet and live for 100 years. If you cut away the bark of the tree, there is a milky white sap called latex that we use to make rubber.

Cork Oak Tree

Cork oak trees grow up to 65 feet. Their bark is called cork and can be cut off a couple of times a year to be used in things like flooring, furniture, and stoppers for bottles. Cutting the bark off doesn't harm the tree; it grows back every year.

Cork oak tree found in the canopy.
Cork Oak Tree

Understory Layer

The third layer is called the understory. This is a thick, dark tangle of vines, shrubs, and trees that grow between 12-15 feet off the ground.

Cacao Tree

The cacao tree is an evergreen tree that grows 15-25 feet tall. It has reddish-purple fruit called pods that grow directly from the trunk. Inside each pod are 20-60 cocoa beans. The beans are processed into cocoa powder and chocolate. It takes around ten pods to produce one pound of dried cocoa beans.

We get cocoa powder and chocolate from these pods on the cacao tree.
Cacao Pods

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