Bamboo is the oldest and largest grass on earth 60 million years old and standing up to 10 metres high. It grows very quickly, some species sprout more than a metre in just 24 hours.
Bamboo is hollow and therefore very flexible and is strengthened by the sections throughout its length.
Thai people use bamboo to make a broad variety of things from rafts and bungalows to furniture, fish traps and cooking utensils. And of course you can eat it bamboo shoot salad is delicious!
There are both male and female banana trees. If the tree has a big flower its a female, a smaller bloom denotes a male.
Banana shakes, banana pancakes, the list goes on; this fruit is part of any tourists staple diet! But its not just the fruit thats used:
This climber can grow up to 10 metres, producing young green peppercorn seeds, which in turn change to red when ripe. Youll spot them in many a Thai dish.
The aromatic roots of this plant are used throughout Thai cuisine. Wild ginger has a horizontal underground stem which is swollen with food reserves. This stem contains oils and resins which give off that wonderful ginger aroma. Not only does it smell gorgeous, but the plants flowers are a beautiful red and pink colour.
More than 1,300 species of palm grow in Thailand, the greatest concentration in the world.
As with the banana, the layers are ingeniously put to good use. The
husk is used to make flowerpots, rugs and baskets, the kernel to make
kitchen tools and the coconut meat, of course, is used in Thai cuisine.
This rare palm is listed as the worlds most endangered species. Its found in Khao Sok and Khao Phra Taew forest park in Phuket, and nowhere else on earth!
If you want to be one of the few to have a sighting of this plant, its 3-5 metres tall and has large fan-shaped leaves with silver-white undersides.
The Rattan Palm is a liana vine. Lianas cleverly rely on other plants to help them grow, hooking themselves around others so they can quickly climb their way up into the light.
Extremely strong and flexible, the vines are used to make beautiful rattan furniture.
A liana vine rather than a tree, the Strangler Fig produces copious amounts of fruit which is gorged on by gibbons, hornbills, wild boar, deer, macaques, civet, bats and birds.
Spreading the seed
Renowned for being a potent laxative, it doesnt take long for the fruit to pass through the animals systems! Thus the seeds get widely spread throughout the forest canopy.
A fig seed that lands on a tree branch can quickly germinate and send roots down to the trunk of a tree. These roots spread, eventually encircling the host trees trunk and strangling it and robbing it of sunlight. The trunk of the host tree eventually dies leaving a hollow fig tree trunk. If you come across a fallen strangler fig trunk you can walk or crawl through it like a tunnel!
Although the vines effectively kill trees, they are important within the rainforest. The strong vines link the upper canopies of the forest, creating aerial bridges for ants, spiders, squirrels and gibbons to cross.