The Jungle Garden

Facts and Figures




The Jungle Garden

Facts and Figures

In the mid-1970's, 1.75 acres on a warm south-facing slope was developed to create the atmosphere of a tropical rain forest. Under a canopy of trees and some subtropical/tropical palms, a suitable microclimate is provided for multi-layered evergreen plants. Except for the trees, the emphasis is on non-woody plants. Ferns, lianas, epiphytes and other suitable plants have been included to enhance the tropical feeling. Plants are not displayed in geographic groupings. The waterfall, completed in 1978, empties into a pond.


Major trees

The canopies of tall trees--Erythrina spp. (Coral Tree), Ficus thonningii (Thonning's Fig), Pterocarya stenoptera (Chinese Wingnut), Pittosporum undulatum, Phytolacca weberbaueri--protect plants below that are sensitive to frost and sun.

Understory plant groups

Bromeliads, Gingers, Heliconias, Ferns, Cycads (Lepidozamia, Ceratozamia), Bamboo, Bananas, Palms, Begonia, Clivias, Malesian Rhododendrons, Aroids (Philodendrons, Monstera, Anthuriums)

Plants with unusual adaptations

Epiphytes, unlike parasites, grow on other plants without harming the host. They obtain their nutrients from bird droppings, plant debris, and dust, and their water from rain, fog, and dew. Examples: Bromeliads, ferns, orchids

Ferns produce no flowers, seeds or cones. Their sexual cycle depends on the production of spores on the undersides of the leaves and the growth of a plantlet. Tree ferns have "perennial stems" and are not capable of increasing in diameter.

Vines climb trees to reach the light. Lianas are climbing plants characteristic of tropical forests. Examples: Aristolochia brasiliensis.

Some forest plants have large leaves on the bottom branches and small leaves at the top of the plant. Leaves at the bottom need more surface area to catch the light.

Cycads are ancient plants with a fossil history reaching back 1/4 billion years. They range from small plants with underground stems to large plants with trunks that may reach more than 30 feet in height.

Cycads are gymnosperms (plants with "naked seeds" not enclosed by an ovary), reproduce by cones and are dioecious. Cones are either male or female and are never found together on the same plant.

Cycads have three types of roots: 1) taproots, 2) secondary roots, and 3) coralloid roots (specialized roots near the soil surface containing blue-green algae that help in nitrogen fixation)


Palms are monocots, which means that their seeds have one cotyledon. Palms do not have secondary thickening and are the largest monocotyledons found in most tropical forests. Most palms in the Jungle are shade-loving. Some of the species found in the Jungle Garden are Caryota urens, Juania australis, and more. J. australis, an exceptionally rare palm from the Juan Fernandez Islands, is extinct in the wild and almost unheard of in cultivation until very recently. It is the only known species in the genus.

Understory jungle palms, esp. Chamaedorea spp., native to tropical America--the Bamboo Palm (C. seifrizii) and Parlor Palm (C. elegans)--are popular houseplants.

The palms in the Jungle Garden are from more tropical areas and are less sun tolerant compared with those in the Palm Garden.

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