Flowers in the Amazon Rainforest make up the largest biodiversity component of the entire forest. There are a great many different species including the firm favorites, the orchids, as well as lesser known but equally attractive species. Amazon Rainforest flowers have their own ways of attracting rainforest pollinators & tourists alike. If you’re after the largest species in the world’s rainforest, you can see the article on rainforest flowers, including the Titan Arum and Rafflesia.
Amazon Flowers – Orchids
Orchids are favorites to spot for tourists in the Amazon Rainforest and there are many to find. The orchid family is the second most diverse flower family there is. The pictured species (Prosthechea fragrans) is found frequently in the Amazon, such as by the Tahuayo River in northern Peru. This species is one of the most abundant orchids in the Amazon Rainforest. As the name implies, this orchid is very fragrant and can often be found by smell alone before the orchids are seen. They sometimes grow densely around particular trees covering the trunk and branches.
The Monkey Brush Vine (Combretum rotundifolium) is a colorful flower to see in the Amazon Rainforest. You can see their fantastic coloration in the above photograph where a humming bird, the plant’s pollinator, has come to sip the flower’s nectar. The flowers have long colorful stamens which leads to their common name of Monkey Brush.
This attractive flower is another orchid in the Oncidium genus from in western South America.
The next section is about the Amazon passion flowers, a favorite flower to spot in the Amazon. These are are different colors and some, such as the red variety below, seemingly explain their passionate name, but the name really refers to something a little more subtle.
Passion Flowers are a favorite flower to see in the Amazon Rainforest and with their dramatic appearance it’s easy to see why. It is their appearance that led to the flowers name as the protruding colorful thorn-like structures were thought to resemble a crown of thorns worn by Jesus during his final period of life, which is known as the passion. Missionaries also attributed other structures of the flower to the crucifixion, such as lance-like petals. There are a variety of colors of the passion flower in South American forests from white through to a brilliant red.
Passion flower plants are either woody vines or shrubs and one known species, Passiflora mucronata, is pollinated by bats. The flower of this species is white as color is of little use if you’re attracting nocturnal pollinators.
Passion flowers have been used in medicine as a sedative. Juice from the fruit has been used among South American indigenous groups to treat a range of ailments. The leaves are also used in traditional medicine to treat problems like insomnia and headaches. Of course, the majority of us are unknowingly familiar with the plant from the fruit of Passiflora edulis as a delicious flavoring for deserts, juice, or simply as the small, purple, hardened fruit with an unusual texture and intense flavor. Only fruit from Passiflora edulis native to south Brazil & Passiflora edulis flavicarpa native to Brazilian Amazon are known as ‘passion fruit’. Careful about picking wild fruit as the immature fruit is cyanogenic, which means they produce cyanide containing compounds. There is even a record of immature fruit from one species, Passiflora adenopoda, leading to fatal poisoning.
Books on Wildlife
Here is a selection of good books and guides on wildlife to help you learn more about animals and plants in their natural environment.