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Stand By Me — Buttress Roots

In many rainforests, trees have had to adapt, or change over time in order to survive. Because the soil in many rainforests can be poor, tree roots often grow near the ground surface in order to get the nutrients it needs to grow.

But this solution also causes problems. As the trees grow taller, the root system is not strong enough to support the trees. So many trees have what are called buttress roots—roots that grow out from the tree trunk and which help to support the tree. One definition of the word buttress is to support or prop up — in this case, the weaker rainforest trees.

Buttress Roots Senegal Africa Rainforest Science
Buttress roots, such as the ones shown here, can grow very tall. In some cases, buttress roots can stand as high as 15 feet. That is almost as tall as a single story in an office building! Buttress roots also grow very long; this is important too for it helps the tree to get more of the nutrients it needs to stay alive.

Why is adaptation important for plants and animals? Can you think of any examples where you live?

Rainforest Kids Science curriculum connection: Unit 1: Chapter 1, Lesson 3, Grade 5; Unit 2: Chapter 1, Lesson 4, Grade 2

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