During the filming of the Rooftop Rainforest TV programme for Sky 1 we ended up in the Tropical Rainforest House at Kew Gardens. I was filmed talking with Lara Jewitt an orchid and bromeliad expert.
I have always known about epiphytes – not only is it a great word but it inspired me in youth – the idea of trees dripping with plants. At Kew there is a concrete tree that has been created specially to show and grow epiphytes and bromeliads.
What is really exciting is how much of a tropical trees ecological value is actually about the other plants that grow on the trees themselves. Most of the wild plants in a tropical rainforest actually grow on another plant. And some of these plants become actual miniature ecosystems in themselves.
No more so than the Tank plants. These plants collect ‘pools’ between their leaves which ‘drown’ insects, provide nutrients and homes for frogs. These pools are watering holes for birds and mammals. This is such a wonderful ecology.