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Bizarre Plants in Xishuangbanna Rainforest

Located within Jinghong , Mengla and Menghai, three counties within Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, the 2854.21km2 Xishuangbanna Tropical Rainforest Nature Reserve(西双版纳热带雨林自然保护区) harbors the biggest, the most representative as well as the best preserved rainforest in China’s high altitude and latitude area, which is also the only well-preserved and uninterrupted tropical rainforest on earth. Thanks to the monsoon climate which brings abundant rainfall, it escapes the doomed fate as a barren desert and becomes the only oasis near the Northern Tropic. Blessed with rich biodiversity, it wins the reputation as “the  Gene's Treasure House on Earth”. This natural spectacle has stirred great enthusiasm among tourists and biologists both home and abroad.

Except the primary economy plants such as rubber tree and tea, a rare seen variety of tropical plants thrive under the canopy of towering trees. Among them, there are 25 kinds of vine, 62 kinds of fragrance plants, 58 kinds of endangered plants, 134 kinds of wild fruits and flowers, 134 kinds of rare plants include Ceylon ironwood, 136 kinds of oil plants, 153 kinds of local distinctive plant species, over 3500 kinds of advanced plants and 920 kinds of herbs. Besides,here live many bizarre flora species such as Miracle Fruit, Dancing Plant and Sky Tree as well as the over one million-year-old Podocarpus imbricatus Pine. What is more, there are over 1000 kinds of plants remain unrecognized.

Sky Tree(Wangtian Tree望天树): the tallest tree in Xishuangbanna

Sky Tree is a must-see in Xishuangbanna. The tallest Sky Tree can develop a formidable height of over 80 meters, and the average one can reach to 60 or 70 meters. With upright and sturdy truck as well as dense foliage, it resembles a giant umbrella. Picky on environment, it features low reproduction capacity, so low that only one out of 2000 seeds can survive and thrive. Concentrating mainly in Mengla Nature Reserve Area, sky tree forest covers an area of only 100km2. To protect this tree and its environment, local people has built a 35-meter-high and 500-meter-long sightseeing corridor in midair: the highest one of its kind on earth. Strolling along this breathtaking corridor, you will feel refreshed instantly.

Aerophyte plants

Since trees and taller plants have occupied the higher space in the jungle, there is little room for tiny plants. To compete enough sunshine and living space, these tiny plants are forced to seek refuge in high trees or vines. They often dangle along big trees’ trucks. When in full blossom, these plants will compose a midair garden, which is very appealing. The more humid the forest, the more Aerophyte plants there will be.


Root-knot is a unique phenomenon exists in tropical rainforest. Many trees in Xishuangbanna feature the most grotesque and fantastic root knots which will challenge your imagination. Big in number, massive in scale and wide in diameter, Sky Tree’s root-knot wins it the reputation as "the King Tree of Root-knot". Sisou Tree(四薮木), a tree which is shorter than Sky tree, is famous for its root-knot which can spread as wide as over 500m2, bigger than its top.

Banyan (Ficus Microcarpa)

In the case of Ficus Microcarpa, a single tree can make a forest. Its numerous flowing roots dangle in midair like long hair. When they reach round, they will grow into trees.
Banya(Ficus Microcarpa): a single tree can make a forest

Vampire Trees

In the beautiful rainforest, even plants can kill each other. Seeds of these vampire trees will be planted among the crackles of their host trees by birds. As they grow bigger, they will twine their mother tree tightly and suck up all their nutrients. Gradually and inevitably, these host trees will wither. Thus, they are the notorious vampires in the kingdom of plants. Ficus Microcarpa is one of them.
 vampire-tree-xishuangbanna  vampire-tree-xishuangbanna

Alsophila spinulosa (Hook.) Tryon(树蕨)

Served as the main diet of dinosaurs, Alsophila Spinulosa Tryon has emerged as early as 70million years ago. It is the most ancient tree on earth and is famed as the living fossil.

 Alsophila Spinulosa Tryon


Perfume Tree: Cananga odorata(依兰香)

The fresh flowers of Cananga Odorata are used to make the first class perfume. As early as the 1960s, over 200 Cananga Odorata trees are spotted in Xishuangbanna’s Rainforest. Cananga odorata boasts light and lingering fragrance, which can not only stir romantic feelings, but also can dispel the mosquitoes away effectively.
 Cananga odorata

Life-saving Tree: Spring Vine(藤泉)

Related to grape, Spring Vine is famous for its superb water storage ability. Its numerous tendrils will tangle everything in their way. The first year, it will yield golden fruits like grapes, which is too sour to eat. To supply enough water to its extremely thick foliage, it has evolved into a water storage machine. Cut one truck of Spring Vine, you will see densely distributed water holes, from where crystal clear water pours out continuously. Thus, it often comes to people’s rescue when they run out of water in the forest. Notice that over drink water from Spring Vine will result in numbness and poisoning, and this life-saving tree can be life-killing.
Spring Vine

Sandalwood(檀香): A tree which can feel jealousy

Sandalwood, also nicknamed as “The king of spices” or “green gold”, is a native plant in India and Malaysia, which can be used to make furniture or perfume as well as to serve religious purposes. Its roots lack the ability to absorb nutrients from the soil, thus Sandalwood usually choose specific kinds of trees as their neighbors, who will provide all the nutrients they need. There exists a very interesting phenomenon: if its neighbor grows better than it, the sandalwood will die out of jealousy. In Xishuangbanna Tropical Rainforest, you can see this precious tree and handicrafts made of it.
 Fan made of Sandalwood Buddhism Beads made of Sandalwood

King Lotus

The hometown of King Lotus is South Africa’s Amazon River area. Resembling lotus in shape, King Lotus’ flower adopt various color during different time. When it comes out in full blossom on the first day, its milky white petals will emit intoxicating perfume. On the second day, it petals will fold up into a bud. When night falls, it will blossom again, and this time its petals will become dark red. With a diameter of one meter, its leaves look like huge basins, which can support a baby’s weight.

The most poisonous Tree in Nature: Antiaris toxicaria (Pers)Lesch

Antiaris toxicaria(Pers)Lesch Tree can grow as tall as 40meters. It will yield red fruits in autumn which will turn purple black when become mature. This tree is the most poisonous tree in nature, whose fruits as well as juices extracted from trucks contain fatal poisonous ingredients. Several drops of them into the eyes will lead to blind. Once entering one’s body through wound area, it can disable one’s heart function, block one’s blood vessels and bring death in 20 to 30 minutes. It can also be found in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Devil Tree in the forest: Antiaris toxicaria (Pers)Lesch

Miracle Fruit

Miracle Fruit is a typical tropical evergreen shrub which lives in West Africa, Ghana and Congo first. In the 1960s, when Prime Minister Zhou Enlai visited West Africa, the Republic of Ghana sent it as a precious gift to China. Since then, this precious plant has taken root in Xishuangbanna. Miracle Fruit derives its name from a magical ingredient which can enhance our tongue’s sensibility to sweetness and weaken its sensibility to sourness. Thus, if we eat several miracle fruits first, no matter how sour the food we are going to eating, they will taste very sweet. Both in China and in its origination place, it is under good protection. Exportation of it is prohibited.
miracle-fruit miracle-fruit

Dancing Plant

In south China and south Asian, there lives a very interesting plant: Dancing Plant, which can grow as tall as 1.5meters to 2 meters when planted on earth. When the temperature reaches 25℃ and the noise reaches 70 decibel during daytime, its delicate leaves will move up and down and even rotate in 360 degrees, hence its name.
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