Temperate Rainforest Plants

What are Australian temperate rainforest plants?

While tropical rainforests grow in tropical climates, temperate rainforests grow in cooler climate. They get less rain that tropical rainforests, and they often grow relatively close to the ocean, where there is marine climate with cool summers and mild winters. They often have summer fog, and bushfires are not common in these forests, mainly because they are very moist.

Rapid River in Rainforest Tarkine, Tasmania, Australia
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Temperate Rainforest Plants Species Richness
Temperate rainforests are not quite as species rich as are tropical rainforests, and the plants of those rainforests are mainly trees. There are no vines, lianas or palm trees. There are many epiphytes, including a wide variety of mosses and lichens. At least 70% of temperate rainforest is closed by tree canopy. Those forests don’t need fire, the seeds on plants are able to regenerate without fire disturbance. Eucalypt forests are not rainforests, but in absence of fire eucalypt forests may develop to rainforests. There are three types of non-tropical rainforests in Australia: Warm-temperate, cool-temperate, and subtropical.

Cradle Mt. and Lake St. Clair National Park, Tasmania, Australia
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Warm Temperate Rainforest Plants in Australia
Australian warm temperate rainforests are found in coastal ranges in southern Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. They receive 1300mm rainfall a year. They have two layers: an upper layer of tall tree canopy, and a lower layer of tree ferns. There are up to about 15 species of trees like hoop pines, bunya pines and brush box. These forests typically support species like Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum), Australian Sassafras (Doryphora sassafras), and Lilly Pilly (Syzygium smithii).

Horseshoe Falls, Mount Field National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tasmania, Australia
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Cool Temperate Rainforest Plants in Australia
Australian cool temperate rainforests are mostly found in Tasmania, but also on the southern coast of Victoria, like Otway National Park, Dandedong Ranges, and even Border Ranges and Lamington National Park in New South Wales and Queensland. Those forests typically get 1750-3000mm of rain a year. They are very rich on mosses, and they are often misty even when it’s not raining. Cool rainforests also have two layers: tree ferns below and large, massive trees (which Tasmania is famous for), highest up. Those trees don’t have buttress roots as do tropical rainforests, and there are not many vines or epiphytes. There are many trees that evolved on Gondwanaland, like Southern Beech (Nothofagus moorei), Myrtle Beech (Nothofagus cunnunghamii), Pinkwood (Eucryphia moorei), Huon pine, pencil pine, celery-top pine, King Billy Pine and Sassafras.

Rainforest Waterfall Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Tasmania, Australia
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Subtropical Rainforest Plants
The third type of non-tropical rainforests, the subtropical rainforest, is found in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, where an excellent example is Fraser Island. Like tropical rainforests, they contain palm trees, epiphytes, vines and buttressed trees, and they are generally lusher than are temperate rainforests. They have either two or three layers, and their canopy is more complex than this of temperate rainforests. They are also much richer in species and support about 100 tree species per 10ha. A few examples include booyong (Argyrodendron spp.), Yellow Carabeen (Sloanea woollsii), fig trees (Ficus spp.), Rosewood (Dysoxylum fraserianium) and Lilli Pillies (Syzygium spp.).

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