Tropical Dome

Click to take a virtual tour of the Tropical Dome  

Tropical rainforests, covering five continents but less than 7% of the Earth's land surface, are home to over 15 million species of plants and animals. It is Earth's most productive and diverse ecosystem.

In our microcosm of the rainforest, you'll encounter over 1,200 species of tropical plants as well as some tropical birds. Rainforest products you'll see in the Tropical Dome include so much more than our favorite houseplants!

Food & Beverages  
  banana Musa
  chocolate/cocoa Theobroma cacao
  coffee Coffee arabica
  grapefruit Citrus x Paradisi
  guava Psidium guajava
  Macadamia nuts Macadamia integrifolia
  star fruit Averrhoa
Spices & Flavorings  
  all spice
Pimenta dioica
  black pepper Piper nigrum
  cardamom Elettaria cardamomum
  vanilla Vanilla planifolia
  ebony Diospyros ebenum
  mahoghany Swietenia and Khaya
Insecticides & Poisons
  curare Chondrodendron tomentosum
  neem Azadirachta indica


Perhaps the most familiar plants of the rainforest are those we have incorporated into our homes and offices for decorating -- plants such as philodendrons, peperomias, bromeliads, orchids, ferns, marantas and calatheas. Other flowering plants that provide vibrant color to the tropical exhibit include amaryllis, hibiscus, anthurium, calliandra, clerodendron, crinum and heliconia.

Unusual tropical life forms are also apparent. A rainforest ecosystem develops vertically as well as horizontally. Our favorite houseplants are often found growing as ground covers in the tropics; their adaptation to low light enables them to survive in our homes. A wide array of epiphytes (plants that use other plants for physical support) such as orchids, bromeliads and ferns are growing overhead on tree branches. Indeed, it is in the forest canopy, along tree branches that much of the plant productivity and diversity occur. Vining plants that scramble up trees to gain more light include vanilla and rangoon creeper (Quisqualis). The tallest trees of the rainforest are called "emergents" because their canopies rise above all others. Here in the Tropical Dome, our emergent is the kapok (Ceiba pentandra), reaching 85' tall. Look at its base and you will discover an important adaptation to the shallow tropical soils – buttressed roots that afford additional support for the tree.

Visit the Desert Dome
Visit the Floral Show Dome

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (The Domes)
524 S. Layton Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53215
(414) 257-5611

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