Creepers, vines, and lianas (woody vines) are abundant in the canopy and make up a significant proportion of the vegetation in tropical rainforests. There are over 2,500 species of vines from about 90 families. They range from small, indiscrete vines that grow against the tree to giant lianas thick as trees that seemingly hang in the middle of the forest independent of trees. Some of the larger woody lianas may exceed 3,000 feet in length. Rattan, a liana, is well known for its use in furniture and ropes. Rattan also produces large, edible fruits, a favorite of primates.
Lianas are vines that begin life on the ground as small self-supporting shrubs and rely on other plants to reach the light-rich environment of the upper canopy. Because lianas use the architecture of other plants for support, they devote relatively little to structural support and instead allocate more resources to leaf production and stem/root elongation for rapid growth. Since lianas are rooted throughout their lives (unlike other structural parasites like epiphytes and hemiepiphytes), they take nothing from the tree except support.
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