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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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it was damp and cloudy; sometimes we were attacked by dense swarms of mosquitoes, which, however, passed on, alternating. As dawn cleared, we finally came close to a very low, marshy mangrove-covered tip of land: Avicenia, Conocarpos, and other small trees by the sea, and a small river, the Inhumirim, slipped softly into the water from the sea.

We then got out of the bay, and the vessel was moved forward by the rowers by means of long sticks. Soon we were surrounded on all sides by dense vegetation, and we enjoyed the alternating variety of the most beautiful groups, which frame the watercourse, intertwining the flowering branches of the Gardenias, Bignonias, Serjanias, and Achites.

Gardenia

A part of the bay's bank, covered by similar amphibian forests, extends deep into the continent, barely rising above sea level. Just as the limit, from which the vegetation takes the form of true forest or finally pasture, has its representatives of the kingdom of Flora, so also the point where the lower and neighboring forms of the sea cease, giving rise to the noblest vegetation, is characterized by its own particular types. It is a marvelous fact that the plants that I give among the tropics on all the beaches of the new and old world (Rhizophora, Bruguiera, Conocarpus, Avicennia), with the germinated seeds on the mother plant and the branches facing the earth, grow so much. Its roots from above as well as from below represent as a whole that kind of vigorous and noble vegetation, which we admire in these latitudes.

Rhizophora mangle

Likewise, as all this vegetation belongs to the beaches of the sea, so each of the main rivers, whose headland is more or less characteristic of its own vegetation, has a typical flora along its course to its farthest banks, forming one of the most important distinctions in the physiognomy of a river system. Thus we find, everywhere, on the banks of the colossal courses of the Sao Francisco River, the Tocantins, the Amazon and their tributaries, certain types, which give the special characteristic note of their vegetation, and are of particular interest to the researcher of geographical relations from the kingdom of plants, since they also form the basis of each particular flora. Each shrub and tree whose branches give root for its regular development requires cooperation with the sea, and they seem to be looking particularly for the muddy bottom with their very far-flung and shallow roots. Their growth is singularly rapid, although they often form very hard and sturdy wood. In particular, Rhizophora Mangle (red mangrove) is distinguished by its very thick bark formed in a relatively short time.

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