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  When is a rain forest not a rain forest?
From: Steve at ExoticRainforest.com (ExoticRainforest) on 2008.05.01 at 00:49:39(17509)
Well, now I'm terribly confused! A note published on the Aroid l last night from Leo Martin, director of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America indicates Epiphyllum species are not rain forest plants. But they live in rain forests. "Steve - They aren't rain forest plants. I've seen some of them in Mexico. There are indeed cacti that are rain forest plants but Epiphyllum in general aren't, with the possible exception of E. chrysocardium. They are denizens of tropical deciduous forest. In other words, 4 months of summer rain, 8 months of no rain (but with normal nighttime dew.) Most (not all) of Mexico has this climate regime. I haven't been to Central America but there's plenty of tropical deciduous forest there too."

This dilemma appears to involve the definition of what is and isn't a rain forest. I've read many times in Dr. Croat's material these forests are known to have dry, moist and wet regions and I thought I understood that. But now it appears I am left to consider plants that live in the dry region not to be rain forest plants. I'm really confused and obviously have a lot more to learn. But, I am trying.

I spent a good deal of the night working Mr. Martin's note into the page and am doing my best to not take a position. I am not an expert and will not try to defend a position just because I don't understand all the ramifications. But this one is rattling my mind!



From: abri1973 at wp.pl (Marek Argent) on 2008.05.01 at 14:16:21(17520)

You are right, in North America there are no rainforests, only deciduous subtropical forest, in Panama or Southern Mexico down throught Brazil and other Southamerican countries you can find evergreen tropical rainforest, the same in Asia, down to about 20 deg. of N latitude there are deciduous forests and where the monsoon climate begins there equally start the rain forest. And of course it also depends from the subclimate, when it's dry and cold of too hot, the rainforest od not occur at all (like Sahara in Africa), the rainforest are present only in the narrow area between the tropics, the equatorial Africa.
Every continent except Europe (and Antarctica :) ) has it's own belt of tropical rainforest. It is always cut by the Ecuator, then there are deserts, priairies and similar dry bioms, and as we go longer there are deciudous leaf-bearing (?) forest gradually replaced by the coniferous evergreens taygah. Also rainforest do do not occur in high mountains even when the latitude could allow them to grow there.

From: plantguy at zoominternet.net (Daniel Devor) on 2008.05.01 at 16:17:08(17522)
Most people consider the coastal temperate rainforest extending from Oregon to Alaska to be a rainforest atleast in name and it is considered to have one of the most complex ecosystems in the world, although not as diverse as the tropical rainforests to which you refer......this obviously begs the question of exactly how a "rainforest" is defined. When you hike through it you are certainly overwhelmed by the understory plants, or atleast I was. So, are all texts inaccurate when they describe the forests of our pacific northwest this way? Just curious,


From: pjm at gol.com (Peter Matthews) on 2008.05.01 at 17:10:16(17523)
Dear Steve,

Maybe rainforests can gracefully mutate from one thing to another over
time, and according to circumstances.

In eastern Australia, there has been a long-term tussle between coastal
rainforests (temperate to tropical) and the dry inland forests, which
also vary from north to south.

As a result, in the vicinity of coastal northern New South Wales,
temperate to tropical rainforest elements encounter temperate to
tropical dry forests, and a complex mosaic of different forest types can
be seen over very short distances.

The mosaics have their own kind of beauty, when seen from the air (even
if pure rainforests exist, we should not regard them as the only kind of

The mosaics may be created by fire and drought allowing dry forests to
penetrate the rainforest areas, and by the opposite allowing rainforest
to penetrate the dry forest areas. Pyromaniacal humans have had a hand
in this over thousands of years, and probably also in central America,
and in areas of Asia where tropical moonsoon regions have boundaries
with temperate seasonal regions.

I guess the herbs just have to do the best they can, while forest the and
climate changes around them.

I wonder what aroid seeds look like in arid and fire-prone areas.


From: hermine at endangeredspecies.com (=?iso-8859-1?Q?hermine=A9?=) on 2008.05.01 at 17:37:42(17525)
At 02:16 PM 5/1/2008, you wrote:
>You are right, in North America there are no rainforests, only
>deciduous subtropical forest,

Uncle Wiki says:

rainforests are rainforest in
temperate regions. They can
be found in North America
(in the Pacific
Northwest, the
British Columbia
Coast, and in the
inland rainforest of
the Rocky
Mountain Trench east of
Prince George)

sometimes we used to call these cloudforests, which may be something
we made up....


From: RAYMOMATTLA at cs.com (RAYMOMATTLA at cs.com) on 2008.05.01 at 20:17:57(17528)
Steve, When I was in Costa Rica I noticed plenty of Epiphyllums growing on
trees in areas of Tropical Moist Forest. They grow alongside Philodendron,
Rhodospatha, Monstera, Anthurium, Syngoinium etc. etc. NOT a true rain
(pluvial) forest, (Doesnt Colombia contain the only true lowland rainforest in
South America?)... but not exactly a dry forest either.

Michael Mattlage

From: soukupvg at email.uc.edu (Victor Soukup) on 2008.05.02 at 07:58:50(17530)
Not to start any arguments, but there is rain forest in North
America. It may not be tropical, but the maritime area of the Pacific
Northwest, from Washington thru coastal British Colombia to Alaska is a
"rain forest". I'm sure this note will make us all remember this fact and
the need to preserve this forest system which the lumber industry wants to
cut down. There is little of the diversity to be found in tropical rain
forests but the trees are indeed magnificent.

From: Steve at ExoticRainforest.com (ExoticRainforest) on 2008.05.02 at 15:53:27(17534)
Michael, I've only been to Ecuador once and that was 20 years ago. So I can't speak with any accuracy, but I did receive this note today, "There is a true lowland tropical wet rainforest down near Tinalandia in Ecuador................. so the answer is no to the proposed question. The Choco certainly is a lowland wet forest also."


From: mossytrail at hctc.com (mossytrail) on 2008.05.02 at 19:27:15(17535)
> sometimes we used to call these cloudforests, which may be
> something we made up....
> hermine
From: ju-bo at msn.com (ju-bo at msn.com) on 2008.05.04 at 03:43:39(17545)
> From: Steve at exoticrainforest.com
> To: aroid-l at gizmoworks.com
> Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 17:53:27 -0500
> Subject: [Aroid-l] When is a rain forest not a rain forest?

Dear Friends,

Im MY silly opinion there are rain forests on BOTH sides of the Ecuadorian Andes. Any person who has actually visited these areas will have no doubt. I worked in the Ecuadorian Amazon for a couple of years, our center was in Lago Agrio, and to travel further East one had to put ones vehicle on a barge (the "Gabara") which would motor you across one of the fast-flowing branches of the upper Amazon. In this and surrounding areas it rained several times daily. Then at one rare moment in time, the rain stopped! No rain fell for one week, and the rivers ran dry, the trees in surrounding jungles began to wilt! Huge gravel trucks were actually able to drive across the bed of the now-dry Amazon! The usually muddy streets in Lago Argo were turned to dust, and the human waste (which was thrown out of doorways from chamber pots every morning) was churned into this dust. At the time I had contracted a cold in Quito, and this quickly turned to a BAD Pneumonia from breathing the dust/waste!
So please don`t try to tell me that there are no rain forests in Ecuador!
Some may make these fine definations after pouring over some illustration in an Atlas, but visit these areas, see the rain AND the Cacti growing on trees WAY up in the canopys, THEN talk.


From: ju-bo at msn.com (ju-bo at msn.com) on 2008.05.04 at 03:50:48(17546)
> Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 10:58:50 -0400
> To: aroid-l at gizmoworks.com
> From: soukupvg at email.uc.edu
> Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] When is a rain forest not a rain forest?

Dear Vic,

There is NO argument, that area is a true rain forest, thanks for the reminder.


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