Discovering Mysteries S3-E2: Living Fossils of the Rainforest

By / HICN / Updated: 18:33,08-August-2022

What Hainan tropical rainforest plants can be called “living fossils”? In Season 3, Episode 2 of Discovering Mysteries, we explore the dense rainforest canopy in search of these ancient wonders of the plant kingdom.

In this episode, you will catch a glimpse of the pole vine, the “river-crossing dragon” vine, the Hainan Sago Palm, the Tree Fern, and more. In Chinese, the Tree Fern is sometimes called “Snake Wood”, “King of Ferns”, and a “Living Fossil”. The fronds of the tree fern, shaped like phoenix tails, shade the nearby brook, acting as a living, green umbrella. The new fronds are tightly curled together at first, then slowly unfurl, multiplying the photosynthesis capacity of the tree. The spores cluster along the lateral veins of each frond.

  The “river-crossing dragon” vine winds through the rainforest.

The Tree Fern is a living fossil of the rainforest.

A national Class II protected species, the Tree Fern is classified as near threatened on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species as well as in the China Plant Red Data Book. It is also classified as an endangered wild plant species in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix II.

 The fronds of the Tree Fern resemble phoenix tails.

Another living fossil of the rainforest is the Hainan Sago Palm, which grows on steep mountain slopes. The tree’s nearly two meter tall trunk supports feathery fronds measuring one meter long each, lined with densely clustered thorns on either side. One of the earliest seed-bearing plants and a national Class I protected species, the rare Hainan Sago Palm grows here and there in the ravine.

The Hainan Sago Palm grows on steep slopes. 

The male flower of the Hainan Sago Palm has opened.

In the rainforest, the pole vine is now flowering. Clusters of flowers stand along the vine, making themselves as showy as possible in order to attract more pollinators. The “river-crossing dragon” vine supports itself on tall trees, winding and twisting its way from one to the next through the complex, layered, deep green environment of the Hainan rainforest.

A flowering pole vine attracts a pollinator.

Season 3 of Discovering Mysteries will have a total of 16 episodes, one per week. Follow along to delve deep into the incredible lives of the plants and animals that make their homes deep in the rainforests of Hainan.



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