Flora of the Iwokrama Rain Forest

digitalasset0000000000002531The Iwokrama Canopy Walkway allows access to the mid and upper canopy of the forest. At these heights the micro-environment of the canopy is revealed as you walk amongst the tree-tops. The middle and upper canopy is home to many species that are never seen at ground level.

In the wider Iwokrama Forest over 1,500 plants (flora) have been identified and with further collecting this is expected to increase to over 2,000 species. Most of the Iwokrama Forest comprises a mixture of forest types, with approximately twelve types classified and with no particular species dominating. A wide variety of plant life can be found in the Forest and adjoining areas. Approximately 75% of the area in the north of the reserve can be described as Tropical Moist Forest and 25% in the south as Tropical Dry Forest.

The mountains and hills in the Iwokrama Reserve do not reach sufficient elevation, given the latitude, for vegetation to be classified as tropical montane or cloud forests, though geology, steep slopes, mesa-like summits and thin soils have created conditions better suited to low-statured, epiphytic, xerophytic and rheophytic plants that characterize these formations.

Select plants of the Iwokrama Rain Forest

tree2Greenheart tree Chlorocardium rodiei is a tall rainforest tree that grows up to 40 m high. It is in the same family as mahogany, and it has been called Brazilian mahogany or bastard mahogany due to their similarity. It can be found growing wild throughout the Amazon rainforest, usually on rich soils, in swamps, and in the alluvial flats, marshes, and uplands of the Amazon Basin. It can also be found wild or under cultivation in Brazil in the Islands region, Tocantins, Rio Solimoes, and near the seaside. It is one of the large-leafed trees of the rainforest and can be identified by its large and distinctively textured leaves..
digitalasset0000000000002609Anatto is a product of the achiote tre Bixa orellana and is sometimes called roucou. The seeds are used to produce a yellow to orange food coloring and also as a flavoring. Its scent is described as “slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg” and flavor as “slightly nutty, sweet and peppery”. Annatto coloring is produced from the reddish pericarp or pulp which surrounds the seed of the achiote (Bixa orellana L.). It is used as coloring in many cheeses (e.g., Cheddar, Gloucester cheese, Red Leicester, Gouda and Brie), margarine, butter, rice, custard powder, ice-cream, and smoked fish.
C_ guianensis fruits1Crabwood Carapa guianensis is not only used to make furniture, but its seed’s oils are used for up to 40 different purposes, including insect repellent and hair oil; some pharmacies use the oil for soaps, candles and insecticidal washes. Be sure to read about the women’s soap cooperative at Bina Hill which produces oils and soaps from this plant. Some of their products may be for sale at our gift counter, and you may also find stock at the Bina HIll shop and at Rock View’s gift benab.
b1ea52eeb5080931215d6162b4411cfdPurpleheart tree, or Peltogyne, is an endangered tree species throughout Amazonia. Do a google search on “purpleheart tree” and you’ll see why: 99% of the results are furniture listings, and 1% is information on the tree itself. Purpleheart is an extremely dense and water resistant wood. It is ranked one of the hardest and most stiff of the woods in the world. Some people claim it is so durable that people use it as truck decking.[2] The trees are prized for their beautiful heartwood which, when cut, quickly turns from a light brown to a rich purple color. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light darkens the wood to a brown color with a slight hue of the original purple. The longer the wood is exposed to UV lights (sunlight), the colour of purple slowly changes from a light purple to a substantially chocolate-purple colour.[3, the purpleheart is still cultivated in Guyana.

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    The Amerindians expertise with medicinal plants is centuries old. The distance from and the scarcity of medical clinics has meant that a large proportion of medical care still relies on traditional medicines. The richness of the flora in Guyana gives the ” Medicine Man ” – half herbalist and half magician – a wealth of choice from the 294 species with recognised curative properties.

    Read about the Medicine Women of the Rupununi

    Home remedies have been around for thousands of years. Even these days about 30 per cent of prescription drugs are still synthesised from plants. In fact, the word ‘drug’ comes from an old Dutch word, drogge, which means ‘to dry’ – which is how many plant medications were prepared.

    However, it is always wise to remember, just because something is “naturally” growing from a tree, doesn’t mean it’s safe to consume.

    Our grandparents and older folks would swear of the healing properties of herbs, leaves, roots and seeds that cured diseases which they contracted. The fact that our ancestors survived proved that some of the many remedies used then, did work and have increasing practical applications today. Read More at Visit Guyana



    Guyana's tropical rainforests protected under the REDD program provide not just natural resources but an income stream to the country.