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Dry rainforest species have gained increasing attention in recent years among horticulturists and local councils for use as amenity trees. The hard man-made surfaces of urban environments make cities significantly warmer than surrounding areas. This results in discomfort for the inhabitants and increased power consumption due to higher demand for air conditioning. Plants ameliorate the urban heat island effect as water evaporates from their leaves (transpiration) and they cast shade beneath their canopies.

The drought tolerance of dry rainforest species has been linked to leaf morphologies and growth habits that confer reductions in water stress and heat loads. However, surprisingly little scientific research has been done on the drought tolerance of rainforest species.
Some epiphytic species have embraced a special form of photosynthetic carbon fixation known as Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM). CAM allows plants to accumulate carbon dioxide from the air at night rather than during the day like most other plant species. By opening their stomata at night and temporarily trapping the carbon dioxide in an organic acid form, CAM plants maximise their water use efficiency. Thus, compared to normal plants, far less water is lost relative to the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed. As might be expected, desert dwelling succulents like cacti are typically CAM plants. Perhaps surprisingly, in terms of numbers of species, CAM plants inhabiting rainforests far outnumber desert species.

The article delves into the research with Deep Yellow Wood (Rhodosphaera rhodanthema) as an example of CAM.

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twelve
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Ways we as gardeners can create a healthier environment for ourselves and our future generations while reducing our ecological footprint.

  1. Make your garden a productive space
  2. Harvest and store natures resources on site
  3. Grow a habitat for all creatures great and small
  4. Use less
  5. Choose natural alternatives
From a 6 page Feature Article in Issue Twelve
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