There are more than 2,000 bromeliad species, but possibly the most commonly known bromeliad is the delicious pineapple eaten by humans. Bromeliads come in a rainbow of colors, including purple, blue, orange and red. They grow throughout the Amazon rainforest, some on rocks, others on the ground, and others that will even grow on plants and tree trunks. Bromeliads are life-sustaining, as their leaves overlap and can contain rain water.
Heliconia flowers, also known as wild plaintain, lobster-claw, and false bird-of-paradise flowers, come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. They are shaped in such a way that only specialized birds can reach them for their nectar. Their diversity of color patterns and sizes make them quite popular outside the Amazon rainforest as decorative garden plants.
The kapok tree is known to be the giant of the Amazon rainforest, growing up to 200 feet high and 9 to 11 feet around. The tree is an important part of the rainforest, as it houses multiple species of plants and animals and produces 500 to 4,000 fruits at any one time. Amazon rainforest natives also use the kapok tree. For example, its bark, resin, seeds and leaves are used to treat fever, asthma, kidney disease, and dysentery. The tree also has long been been revered by many indigenous cultures of the Americas, including the Mayans.
Orchids, also found in the Amazon rainforest, are known particularly for their beauty and their strong aroma. They are plentiful in the rainforest, and this can be attributed to their ability to thrive for long periods of time without external assistance. For example, their roots are able to quickly absorb water and nutrients, plus their secondary stems can carry water for long periods of time. One other quality that makes orchids so widespread is their thousands of tiny seeds, which can be carried all over the rainforest by the wind.
The water lily, one of the world's largest flowers, can grow to about 6 feet long. They may be large, but they weigh little. This quality allows a water lily to float upon water in lakes and rivers. The amount of water lilies in the Amazon rainforest is so great that they may drape like a solid floor over entire lakes.