Rainforest Layers

I am a teacher at North Aiken Elementary.  Our class is studying Rainforests.  This page is part of our study.

The rainforest divides into different layers, like stories of a building.  The tallest trees are found in the emergent layer (A).  These trees may be more than165ft (50 meters) tall. The canopy layer (B) is where the tree tops join together to make an umbrella like covering.  The trees reach about 115 feet (35 meters) above the forest floor.  The plants in this layer soak up the sun.  Only a little light filters through the canopy layer.  Between the brightly lit canopy and the dark forest floor is a layer of smaller trees known as the understory (C).  These trees range from 50 to 65 feet (15 to 20 meters) tall.  Here the trees have to make the most of the little light they get.  The palms and ferns found in this layers have huge leaves, which can be up to 3 feet (.9 meters) long.  There is less plant life in the understory.  The shrub layer (D) includes the plants that are 16 to 32 feet (5 to 10 meters) tall.  The herb layer (E) is most often missing in the forest due to the lack of sunlight.  At 3 feet (1 meter) the plants have insufficient sunlight to grow.  Little plants also grow in the forest floor (E) due to the lack of sunlight.  Here you will find rotting leaves and animal remains.  The soil here is rich and provides many nutrients for the entire rainforest. 


The rainforest is home to more than half of the different kinds of animals.  These animals make their home in the different layers of the forest.  To learn about some of them click on the picture below.


Main Page

Rainforests Around the World

Rainforest Animals

Rainforest Links

The views expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the University of South Carolina.
(January, 2002)