The Virtual Rainforest
A Neotropical Rainforest
Rainforest Research


Tree Seedlings

Forest Flowers



Army Ants

Bullet Ants
Leafcutter Ants

Rhinoceros Beetle

Swallowtail Butterfly



Keel-billed Toucan

Howler Monkeys

White-faced Monkeys

Three-toed Sloth
Baird's Tapir
White-lipped Peccary
Reptiles and Amphibians:
Red-eyed Tree Frog
Poison Dart Frog
Helmeted Iguana
Eyelash Viper
Terciopelo Viper
Spectacled Caiman
American Crocodile
Human Systems:
Rainforest Boy
Rainforest Girl
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Rainforest Research

About the Authors





Rainforest Flowers

Hot Lips Flower (Psychotria poeppigiana)
The beautiful flower on the right is a "Hot Lips" bush, a small shrub that lives under the rainforest canopy in the dark "understory." The bright red color attracts birds to pollinate and disperse seeds.
Passion Flower - Passiflora

Passion Flower - PassifloraPassion Flower (Passiflora sp.)
The passion flower is one of the most elaborate of all flowers found in the rainforest. It has rings of nectar producing parts found in no other types of flowers. They are the maroon and white stuff in the center of the flowers.

The passion flower gets its name from its appearance rather than it actually causing passion. The reproductive parts of the flower (the yellow anthers and red stigma) resemble the crown of thorns that Jesus wore during the "passion," his sufferings before crucifixion.

Passion-flower plants are vines. Many of the vines are found in the forest canopy and send their flowers down on long stems so that they can be in the understory where their pollinators live.

Some other beautiful flowers of the rainforest:
Heliconia wagnerianna
Spathiphyllum friedrichsthalli
Heliconia species
Heliconia wagnerianna is a flower related to bananas. It is pollinated by hummingbirds. The Peace Lily (Spahiphyllum friedrichstahlli) is a common plant in swamps in the rainforest. It makes a great houseplant too. This Heliconia flower makes hummingbirds hover and its curved flowers favor hummers with curved beaks.

Why do you think plants that live in the understory of a rainforest make such great house plants? (answer below)

Rainforest understory plants do not get much sunlight, so they have evolved to survive in low light conditions. Our houses and offices often do not have enough light for sun-loving plants to survive, but shade-lovers like the Peace Lily do great.


The Virtual Rainforest

Back to the Rainforest

Copyright Gerald R. Urquhart
Michigan State University

Students and teachers have permission to quote text and use images from this website in class assignments. Images may be used in classroom and academic presentations with notification of author. All other use should request permission.


Virtual Rainforest development supported by grant #0815966 from the
National Science Foundation

Center for Global Change and Earth Observation

Michigan State University