The Understory


The understory is hot, damp, and the air is still. This part of the rainforest is under the leaves but above the ground. The understory is a tangle of shrubs, young trees, palms and woody plants that can grown in the shade of the taller trees.

The small amount of light in the understory encourages the plants to think of smart ways to survive.The leaves of many of the plants are very large, so that they can absorb or soak in as much sunlight as possible. The plants in this layer of the forest hardly ever grow higher than twelve feet.

Many houseplants are found in this part of the rainforest (philodendrons, prayer plant, zebra plants, and peace lily, for example). These plants can live in your living room as well as the understory because both places get little sunlight.

prayer plant
zebra plant
peace lilly
Philodendren Prayer Plant Zebra Plant Peace Lily

Many rainforest animals use camouflage. They have colors and patterns that help them hide in the rainforest. A moth may look like a leaf. A monkey may match the color of tree bark. Big cats may have spots that blend into the shadows. Colorful animals may hide high up in the forest.

Some animals don't hide. Their colors warn others away. Poison dart frogs can be blue, yellow,red or green. One touch of their skin can kill.
poison dart
vine butterfly
The passion vine butterfly is red, black and yellow. The colors warn birds not to eat them.

Animals and Plants of the
Rainforest Understory

iguana boa Coatimundi fruit bat
Blue-tailed Iguana
Boa Constrictor
Fruit Bat
tree boa leafcutter margay tree frog
Green Tree Boa
Leaf Cutter Ants
Tree Frog
Kinkajou lianas spider monkey Heliconia Butterfly
Liana Vines
Spider Monkey
Heliconia Butterfly



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