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Sharp Sense of Protection

Plants are alive — like you! Animals have hands, teeth, and can run away to survive. Plants don’t! How do rainforest plants ward-off animal predators?

Have you ever touched a prickly plant? If so, you probably didn’t forget! Animals get hurt when they bite onto plants with thorns. Trees have spikes to prevent hungry critters from climbing up and stealing fruit or leaves from tree tops. Sharp things are a good defense for many trees and other plants.

Capirona tree slippery bark tree spikes Rainforest
Some trees have bare, slippery bark. This is also a good defense. The smooth surface makes it hard to climb. Animals slide right off the trunk.

Plants need protection from other plants too, not just animals. Thorns and slippery bark make it difficult for plants to grow on tree trunks. When vines and plants grow on other trees, they steal nutrients. The tree gets weak and may die. This vine is named the Strangler fig vine for a reason. It actually strangles a tree to death over time.

Rainforest Plants Protection Methods Strangler fig vine
Some trees shed bark. Sheets of bark just peel off like dead skin. This is a good way to get rid of vines, like the strangler fig vine. As vines grow and get heavy, they will fall off the tree.

Spikes are not only found in rainforests. Can you find plants with spikes or thorns where you live?

Poke around: Naked tree

Rainforest Kids Science curriculum connection: Unit 2: Chapter 1, Lesson 3, Grades 1, 3-4
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