The central Palm House and its adjoining wings are dedicated to Tropical Rainforests where the intense competition for resources, especially light, gives rise to a high, dense canopy and dark forest floor. The plantings are a curious mixture of the familiar and the spectacular. Some of our most popular houseplants such as Fittonia or Ficus derive from the rainforests since they tolerate low light levels.
Overhead the canopy is studded with flamboyant orchids, bromeliads, passionflowers and many climbing plants. In spring, the flowering of the Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) is a breath-taking sight as hundreds of metre-long, jade-coloured inflorescences descend from the canopy.
The Tropical Rainforests displays also feature many important economic crops, for example rice, tea, coffee, cotton, rubber and mahogany, and some more unusual ones such as kapok and starfruit.
The Tropical Rainforests display is kept moist by canopy sprays. On hot days the temperature can soar to over 40°C and the air becomes completely saturated with water, mimicking the humid tropical regions of the world.