Discovering Mysteries S3E5: Forest of a Single Tree

By Nicki Johnson / HICN / Updated: 18:19,29-August-2022

From a distance, it looks like a giant umbrella. Up close, you can see all kinds of aerial plants living safely in its embrace. This is a scene of the tropical rainforest - the forest of a single tree.

In the latest episode of Discovering Mysteries  a micro-documentary unveiling the mysteries of nature in South China’s tropical island of Hainan, we will visit the unique ecological landscape created by the giant banyan trees of Hainan’s lush green rainforests.

A Mountain Banyan tree forms a giant umbrella in Hainan’s tropical rainforest.

The soil layer is thin in most of the tropical rainforest, and it’s not easy for plants to get enough support to stand upright. The Mountain Banyan’s survival skills are impressive, allowing it to sprout an endless number of rootlets from its trunk and branches. These aerial roots are able to take in moisture from the atmosphere. When they grow long enough to take nourishment from the soil, they quickly grow thick and begin to provide support for the tree. As these root systems grow in number, it becomes difficult to tell which is the original trunk.

The aerial roots of the Mountain Banyan resemble the strings of an instrument.

Many rainforest creatures seek shelter under the giant umbrella of the Mountain Banyan. On the trunk, Weaver Ants march along. They use their feelers to find food, stay on their path, and learn about the outside world. A Keeled Box Turtle struggles through the ground cover. The crevices between roots and rocks are ideal places for him to hide. A Brown-Spotted Pit Viper blends perfectly into the dead leaves below the tree. The heat-sensing pit between its eyes and nose allows it to track prey.

The Mountain Banyan is an excellent place for Weaver Ants to live.

A Keeled Box Turtle roams beneath the branches of the Banyan.

A Brown-Spotted Pit Viper rears his head in the forest.  

Discovering Mysteries Season 3 premiered on August 1, with a total of 16 weekly episodes exploring the incredible lives of the many creatures that live here on the island of Hainan.

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