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House 11- The Cloud Forest

The Cloud Forest  House 11
In this exhibit, you'll find plants primarily from the cloud forests of Panama. Similar to rainforests, cloud forests receive high amounts of rainfall. However, in addition to regular rainfall, cloud forests obtain a lot of their water from cloud formations that settle in the upper canopy of the trees. Cloud forests exist throughout the world, however they are much more common in the tropics. The tropical plants in this exhibit are largely epiphytic and are used to living high up in the canopy of the rainforest. Exotic orchids, bromeliads, and a number of tropical trees can be found in the Panama Cloud Forest. 

What can you find in this greenhouse?

Bromeliads, Bromeliaceae 
Bromeliads are a family of flowering plants found mostly in the rainforests of Central and South America. They are epiphytes, meaning that they grow and live harmlessly on top of other plants. There are many different species of bromeliads that produce a wide range of different colored leaves and flowers. Most bromeliads create a vase-like structure with their leaves, allowing them to collect tiny pools of water at their center. These little bodies of water play an important ecological role, providing a variety of animal and insect species with water. There are many species of tree frogs and insects that lay eggs inside of these pools. Bromeliads that grow high in the canopy of the rainforest provide water to birds and small mammals that rarely visit the forest floor. 

Papaya, Carica papaya 
Papayas are large plants that grow in the tropical regions of Mexico and Central America. Its stem is tall and long, with leaves that only grow at the top of the plant. Though it may look like a tree, it is actually just a very tall plant! Papayas grow large green fruit that turn yellow when ripe. The inside flesh of the fruit is bright orange with black seeds in the center.  

Sapodilla, Manilkara zapota - Sapodilla is a slow growing evergreen tree found throughout much of Central America. It is known primarily for its white, latex sap called ‘chicle.’ The Mayans and the Aztecs used to boil the chicle and mold it into thin blocks. They would then cut them into small pieces and use it as chewing gum.