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Rainforests cover just two per cent of the earth’s surface yet are home to about half of the world’s 5 to 10 million plant and animal species. Many of the foods we eat today originated in rainforests and about a quarter of all medicines available are natural ingredients of rainforest plants. Rainforests also have a major impact on the world’s climate.
You can experience rainforest plants from around the world in the Sydney Tropical Centre. The collections of plants are from the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest area, from steamy Asia and the Pacific and from the mysterious rainforests of Africa. The monsoon climate of northern Australia is replicated in the pyramid with our own orchids, ferns, figs, native bananas and a host of other luscious rainforest species.
Click here to learn about Australian rainforests.
A number of rainforest plants from New South Wales are well established in the Royal Botanic Garden. One example is the Macadamia tree:
The macadamia is a rainforest tree that grows to about 15 m. It is endangered in its natural habitat and will disappear from the wild within the next 10-20 years if the present human use of the land continues. The macadamia nut is supremely tasty. The oil content of the kernel is higher than 72% which is the highest for any oil-yielding nut.
Click here to find out what questions school children asked about rainforests during our ‘Ask a scientist’ program.
Two excellent web sites have information and further links on rainforests.