Brazil is an enormous country with an incredibly diverse and colossal amount of varying types of vegetation. The South American sub-tropical climate makes the land incredibly fertile, allowing flora and fauna to excel in the different regions of the country. The Amazon River supplies water and nutrition to most of Brazil’s luscious landscape.
80% of Brazil’s tropical forest cover is found in the dense Amazon Basin, a mosaic of ecosystems and many types of vegetation, including rain forest, savanna, and seasonal forest plants. To get local insight into the tropical rainforest and vegetation types, why not join one of the amazing Amazon Jungle Tours available in the area. The Amazon Rainforest has over 3,000 species due to the diversity and fertility of the soils.
But turn your travels out of the rainforest to the Atlantic Forest and Rio de Janeiro regions, and you will discover more than the classic palm tree on white sands. Head south to Paraná areas for a change from tropical forests, discover the natural world around São Paulo, and the sea-level South American lowlands for different types of vegetation in Brazil.
What are the different types of vegetation found in Brazil?
Brazil has one of the greatest biodiversities in the world. The rich tropical rainforests of the Amazon play an incredibly important role in the globe as the many types of green-life pump oxygen into the environment. The Atlantic forest and Cerrado regions are the two largest spots for the conservation of diversity.
Tropical forest and Amazon forest areas face major devastating challenges of deforestation, making room for farmland, cattle, and agricultural produce. Sustainable tourism to Brazil and the rain forest area is one step to help save the incredibly diverse plant-life found in the Amazon Basin and Atlantic Forest.
Want to know what types of vegetation in Brazil you can find? Check out these exotic plants that call this beautiful country and region home.
Brazil Nut Tree in the Amazon Rainforest
Bertholletia Excelsa, or better known as the Brazil Nut Tree, is abundant in the Amazon Basin rain forest. This tree can reach up to staggering heights of up to 160 feet, with the trunk usually around 6 feet across. The leaves are egg-shaped with a smooth surface and the cream-colored flowers are symmetrical in appearance.
The pods/fruits themselves can be anything from 3 to 7 inches in diameter, with a similar appearance to a coconut. Each pod can weigh up to 5 pounds and contain 12 to 24 nuts or seeds. Each tree can produce more than 300 pods, which ripen and fall between January and June.
Deforestation has a massive impact on the Brazil Nut Tree as they require an established and undisturbed habitat to thrive. Native Brazilian bees pollinate the flowers, agoutis rodents spread the seeds, and local communities collect and harvest the nut. The Brazil Nut is the largest non-timber produce to come out of the Amazon.
Begonia’s at Iguazzu Falls
Iguazzu Falls is one of the most magical locations in Brazil with the endless cascades and tropical jungle surrounds. One of the most prominent and noticeable plants in the tropical forests have to be the Begonia. The Begonia flower adds a splash of color to the rich jungle green, in either pink, red, yellow, or white.
Begonia’s thrive in the humid climate with a canopy of shade from strong sunlight, something this region has plenty to offer. This succulent can be found scaling and flourishing throughout the Brazilian jungle areas.
Savanna Grasses in the Mato Grosso
In central Brazil, just below the Amazon, is the Mato Grosso Plateau – the inland Brazilian Highlands. The landscape here is dominated by floodplains which is the perfect environment for Savanna Grasses. This vegetation type needs a hot climate with scattered tree coverage, to allow for maximum sun exposure.
The savanna grasses found in the Brazilian regions are just like the landscapes across the world in Africa, Australia, and Tropical America areas. These grasses provide coverage and habitat to many species of wildlife across Brazil.
Possibly the most iconic plant of Brazil is the Rubber Tree. This tropical vegetation is also found in South-East Asia and western parts of Africa. The milky sap contains 30% rubber which can be cultivated and made into Latex and products such as tires or surgical gloves.
The Rubber Tree is a prominent part of the rainforest canopy and the Amazon Forest, playing an important part in the natural photosynthesis cycle and capturing most of the sunlight on offer. However, the rubber tree is also often brought into our homes and makes an excellent house plant.
Silk Cotton Tree
Kapok, or Silk Cotton Trees, are common in the tropical forests across the world and is often the highest reaching within the canopy, reaching up to 240 feet. This extreme height allows the Silk Cotton Tree to reach the winds. The fine fibers of silk carry the tree’s seed across the forest areas, continuing the lifecycle and ecosystem.
Locals collect the silky fibers to use as insulation in sleeping bags, mattresses, and pillows. Kapok trees have also been used in traditional medicinal practices treating headaches and diabetes. You can easily identify the Silk Cotton Tree with its impressive buttress roots dominating the forest floor, often at least 10 feet in diameter, and the spikey trunk reaching up to the sky.
Atlantic Forest Bamboo
The Atlantic Forest stretches from the northern coast of Brazil, stretching along west inland and reaches down south to the Rio Grande do Sul region. Bamboo is one of the main vegetation types, dominating the landscape in large woody clumps. The overabundance of bamboo in the forest allows the country to use it in construction and development projects, farming the wood across the area.
Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world and is incredibly strong. It is crucial Brazil continues to harvest the bamboo from the Atlantic Forest, otherwise this vegetation will take over most of the land and push out other species. If you find your travels take you to São Paulo, make sure you head to the Parque Ibirapuera – the first metropolitan green space in the city dedicated to the conservation and showcasing of national vegetation.
Orchid Types of Vegetation in Brazil
Under the rain forest canopy on the lower levels are thousands of epiphyte plants that live off other vegetation, with the most notable being the orchid. There are over 25,000 different species of an orchid across the world, with a surplus found in the wet tropics. Orchids have beautiful flowers and have roots attached to other plants, not in the soil, absorbing water from the surrounding air.
The jungle fungus that grows on the orchid roots helps feed the plant, giving additional nutrients needed to flourish. Orchids are a fantastic example of the great ecosystem and balance of nature found in Brazil.
Purple Glory Trees of Rio de Janeiro
Purple Glory Trees, otherwise known as Tibouchina Granulosa, require a lot of sun. And where better than Rio de Janeiro, the major tourist hotspot with vibrant and feverish energy. The Purple Glory Trees line the streets of this city, covering Rio in a deep purple hue to match the carnival spirit.
You will find the Purple Glory Trees among the classic tropical palm trees throughout the city. But you can also see these eye-catching plants along the many walking trails that venture up the surrounding mountains, giving excellent views of Rio de Janeiro below. More often that not, you will also discover wildlife along the trail including lizards, squirrels, parrots, and even monkeys.
These trees can reach up to 6 meters in height and are often seen trailing across walls to soak up most of the sun. The purple flowers make for some epic photos and backdrops to a new social media profile picture.
Golden Trumpet Trees in Cerrado
The cerrado biodome is home to the Golden Trumpet Tree – an iconic piece of the Brazilian landscape. Their name is down to the striking golden color of the flowers in springtime and the trumpet-shaped seeds. It is extremely rich in nectar and a major part of the bee honey cycle.
Golden Trumpet Trees can reach up to 80 feet in their natural habitat on the cerrado plains. These really are a showstopper for visitors and is one of the most distinctive types of vegetation in Brazil.
Paraná Pine of Rio Grande do Sul
Araucaria angustifolia, better known as the Paraná Pine, is a critically endangered tree found in the southern state of Brazil. This is an evergreen tree reaching up to 40 meters in height and 12.5 feet in girth. The leaves are thick, tough, and scale-like with razor sharp edges.
As the tree matures, the branches reach out into distinct levels – a specific characteristic of the tree. Squirrels and birds rely on the nuts produce by the Paraná Pine. Studies show that 97% of this trees habitat has been lost due to deforestation, agriculture, and logging. They were listed as critically endangered in 2008.
The main ingredient in chocolate is the Cacao nut, or Cocoa, which is native to Brazil. The tree is found in the shaded lower levels of the rainforest canopies. The Cacao is an important piece of vegetation for Brazilian agriculture and economy – in the 1980s, Brazil produce almost 430,000 tonnes of cacao bean for international trade.
The evergreen trees produce the gold and red pod that contains the white pulpy seeds that are harvested. Each pod can contain anything between 20 to 60 seeds and may be used in chocolate, beverage, or butter production. You can eat these pulpy seeds fresh directly from the pod, they have a deliciously sweet taste.
Giant Water Lilies
And last but not least, Giant Water Lilies, also known as Victoria Amazonica, are simply stunning. This plant floats on the surface of the water with the stalk submerged sometimes up to 26 feet down. The lily pad itself can get up to 10 feet in diameter, truly living up to the name.
You will find giant water lilies in the shallow waters of the Amazon Basin as well as some lakes throughout the country. The underside of the lily pad is specially evolved and adapted to discourage hungry fish from taking a bite with small spikes reaching into the water. Every dusk the flowers burst into bloom, creating a magical and ethereal experience for those lucky to visit.
Brazil is made up of several different types of vegetation. From rainforests to savannas and open plains, the country is a mosaic of flora and plants. Brazilian forest areas are abundant in different types of plants including Rubber Trees, Orchids, Giant Water Lilies, and Cacao.
You will also find the Brazilian Nut Tree and Bamboo throughout Brazil’s forests. The soil is incredibly fertile and rich in the forests which allows many species to thrive and coexist.
Vegetation in Brazil needs certain characteristics in order to survive and thrive which include: height to reach the sun in high canopies, or epiphyte qualities to feed from other plants. Brazil is a tropical and subtropical region, which means a lot of the Brazilian flora is evergreen. Many also produce seeds and nuts which are spread throughout the forests and land by fauna, ensuring the continuation of the species.
Rainforest vegetation must be suited for humid air and downpours in the weather. Trees that require maximum amounts of sunshine must grow high above the canopy to reach the UV. Shrubs and ferns on the lower levels have developed to survive with little amount of sun in their dense habitat.
Plants found in the drier plains of Brazil and Cerrado area need to be versatile to survive desert droughts and savanna conditions. Aerial roots are a unique characteristic for these plants to draw moisture from the air rather than the ground.
Vegetation in Brazil plays a major part in the global climate. The Amazon Rainforest produces 20% of the worlds oxygen levels and is often called The Lungs of the World. Over two and a half million species of insects alone live in the Brazilian rainforests and rely on the plant life for habitat, food, and survival.
The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest spanning over 2 million square miles. There are thousands upon thousands of research inlets to be found for scientists in the Atlantic Forest and the Amazon. The use of some plants can aid medicine development.