Well we can't have a jungle without plants can we? Our plants create the feel of the rainforest and give the birds and animals that live in them a real feeling of security and privacy. In fact often we don't even know when our birds are breeding until their babies start to learn to fly!
Rainforest conditions with high humidity, no direct sunlight and of course damp soil makes the selection of our plant species sometimes very difficult, here is a bit more information on some of the different types that thrive in this situation. Some you may recognise as popular house plants but ours are many times bigger!
This is the Pineapple family! There are over 1,400 species that live in Tropical America. Some have hard spiky leaves (like the Pineapple) and produce a central brightly coloured flower. These leaves are arranged to allow water to collect within them ensuring that the plant never dries out. Frogs often use these reservoirs of water as nurseries for their eggs and tadpoles! Other Bromeliads, called 'Air plants', have evolved to grow without soil and can be seen hanging from the branches of the trees.
Fig Family - Ficus
This large family of plants comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Ficus decora, also known as the Rubber Plant, has large shiny leaves and can grow to a huge size given the correct conditions. Ficus benjamina, known as the Weeping Fig has small leaves and drooping branches but again can grow quite large, in fact we have specimens that are over 10ft tall!
Swiss Cheese Plant - Monstera deliciosa
This rainforest plant produces aerial roots that allow it to absorb extra water from the atmosphere as well as from the ground. They also help to stabilise the plant as it grows by anchoring it to nearby trees and rocks.
Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum
Found in Central and South America this plant enjoys living in the shade created by the larger plants and trees in the Rainforest. It grows in a clump with new plants appearing around the 'parent' plant. Twice a year it sends out a 'hood' like white flower that is quite long-lived. This plant is also one of the most commonly kept 'house plants' in the UK, although not always successfully! If you have difficulty getting yours to produce flowers, move it somewhere darker!
Orchids - Orchidaceae
This is a large and varied family. Many have beautiful flowers but it can be difficult to keep them healthy. As their flowers last a number of months we rotate our orchids around Amazon World putting them into our 'Orchid World' display just as they flower and then returning them to their growing areas when the blooms fall off. Orchids are found in many different habitats including rainforests and the fruit of one species, the Vanilla Orchid, has been used by humans to flavour food for at least 1,000 years having first been used by the Totanaca tribe of Central America.
This plant comes in many varieties. Some grow in dense clumps while others grow in lines. We use species according to its suitability for a particular enclosure. In our 'River' section the clump of Bamboo provides a secluded area for our Flamingos to nest in. We also grow Bamboo outside in front of our fa?ade, here it helps to give a jungle feel and as it is very quick growing we can also harvest it and give it to our primates to nibble and play with!