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Remember the Rainforest 1



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a few poisonous snakes, which we sometimes found hidden among the pineapple leaves. So our guide avoided the deepest shrubs, and the higher we climbed the hills, the clearer and clearer the undergrowth was in the woods. Rarely did granite appear on the slopes or in the streambed; but in general it was ground of deep, dark brown clay, crisscrossed with abundant filaments of roots.

Herbs and grasses are rare in this soil, but all the more imposing are the trunks of unclassified tree species, which at the height of one hundred and fifty feet form a vast vault of foliage. Many of these gigantic trees are still distinguished by their special roots, which radiate from the lowest part of their trunks, and with which they always seek to support their immense weight. These shoots, outbreaks at the base of the trunk, are extensions of both the trunk downward, as from the roots upward, and not as one might at first glance believe, simply roots above the ground. Their growth began then, when the tree reached a considerable height; they are covered with epidermis and cortex, like the rest of the trunk above the earth; They extend further and further downward into the roots themselves and form as many main roots as there are.

Etching 9 Ancient trees

Sometimes they rise to the height of ten or twelve feet; the cylindrical trunk then rests also on the deeply grooved pyramid; and felling is very difficult because the ax has to at least cut the double thickness. The logs of this unique trunk formation, which in Brazil is called cepo-apeba, are used instead of boards, because they have a flat surface. Countless are the forms of plants with the straight or curled shoots of pineapples and arums, of ferns and wonderful orchids, which line the tall trunks in the humid places. Such sometimes misleading fantasy forms excite the traveler's imagination and can arouse terrible fears, due undoubtedly to the dramatic silence of these forests. What, however, is the constant effect of this fearful loneliness upon the human soul, - the Indians our guides are testimony to us. With small but quick steps, they walked ahead of us, and seemed absorbed in the quiet, all senses alert.


Polypodium corcovadense

Cattleya eldorado

Every gust of wind, moving the foliage of the crowns, every noise made by animals, are perceived by the Indian, who turned everywhere his small uneasy eyes and very protruding ears; He also apprehends at once everything that happens in this great drama of nature through which he passes, taking advantage of everything as needed; here he is attracted by deceivers called the parrot, which is behind the branch, or spies on the fleeing squirrels;


Etching #9, Flora Brasiliensis, 1840 by Karl von Martius
Coloring by Alberto and Carol Miranda Chor 2010