Tropical Dome

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dark green, large leaves called Elephant's ears due to their similar shape as elephant ears

Welcome to the Jungle

Tropical rainforests include the Amazon in South America, the forests in the Congo basin in Africa and on islands throughout Southeast Asia. More than half of earth’s species of plants and animals are found in these very wet and warm places, which typically receive 80 – 400 inches of rainfall annually.  Temperatures in the rainforests range between 75 - 80° F every day of the year, which is why our Tropical Dome is kept warm and humid and plants are watered twice a day.

a large hibiscus flower with colorful orange and purple petals

Exotic House Plants

Plants make us happy - and many of the plants that have made their way into our homes originated in the rainforest, this includes Philodendrons, Peperomias, Bromeliads, Orchids, Ferns, Dracaena and Spathiphyllum. Other flowering plants that provide vibrant color to the tropical exhibit include Hibiscus, Anthurium, Calliandra, Clerodendron, Crinum and Heliconia.

a small weaver bird sitting on a ledge in the tropical dome

Animal Residents

While you're exploring the Tropical Dome make sure to look up to spot some of our resident birds, which include the Orange Bishop's Weaver, and make sure to look down in the pond to see our collection of Koi fish.

looking up at a towering palm tree that almost reaches the roof of the dome

Four Forest Layers

The structure of the Tropical Dome provides room for the four layers of plant life that exist in rainforests.

At the bottom is the forest floor, which receives less than 2% of the sunlight. Only a few plants that have adapted to the low light are able to survive on the forest floor.

Next is the the understory, this layer is where smaller shrubs, climbing ferns and dioons thrive, as well as familiar food items, such as coffee, kava and pepper.

Above the understory is the canopy. In this layer you'll see fruiting plants, including the banana plant, orange, tamarind, pomello, guava and coconut palm. The canopy also includes trees harvested for their wood, such as teak, mahogany and ebony. In a natural rainforest, this is the most active layer and where most animals are found.

At the top is the emergent layer, which reaches above the other plants in the forest and receives the most sunlight. Plants here include the Canary Date Palm, the tallest tree in the Tropical Dome.

a group of yellow and pink orchids hanging in the tropical dome


The orchid family is one of the most varied plant species in the world, with over 25,000 species and hybrids. Orchids grow worldwide and can be found everywhere from the Australian desert to the Alaskan tundra. Many orchids are epiphytes, also known as air plants, they grow on other plants without the support of soil and gather moisture and nutrients from the air. Inside the Tropical Dome you'll see a variety of our award-winning orchids.

a single orange cocoa pod growing on a cocoa tree

Edible Fruits

Throughout the Tropical Dome are numerous fruit trees including star fruit, banana, oranges and guava. You'll also see a coffee arabica plant and a cocoa tree - the seeds inside the pods are what are used to make chocolate; and you'll find several plants used for spices that can found in most kitchens, including cardamom, turmeric, and black pepper. Despite its name, however, the Sausage Tree is not actually an edible plant.