Rainforest Tree Support

Kapok tree, Tikal

The tree in the rainforest are huge! They often look taller than they are because they are thinner than trees we might see in cooler climates of the same height. In the rainforests the trees must fight rapidly to get to the canopy for the rare sunlight. They do this by supporting themselves with broad bases rather than by growing wide. This tree has what are called "buttress roots".

Prop roots

This tree is sending out "prop roots". Try standing up with your feet close together and have a friend push you. Try it again with your feet far apart. See how stable you are with your feet further apart? - that is just what this tree is doing!

ficus tree

And trees such as this ficus with its thin trunk could get blown over very easily without all of its prop roots.

© 2001 Stephen Blythe