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Laurel forest

The meaning of «laurel forest»

Laurel forest, also called laurisilva or laurissilva, is a type of subtropical forest found in areas with high humidity and relatively stable, mild temperatures. The forest is characterized by broadleaf tree species with evergreen, glossy and elongated leaves, known as "laurophyll" or "lauroid". Plants from the laurel family (Lauraceae) may or may not be present, depending on the location.

Laurel and laurophyll forests have a patchy distribution in warm temperate regions, often occupying topographic refugia where the moisture from the ocean condenses so that it falls as rain or fog and soils have high moisture levels.[1] They have a mild climate, seldom exposed to fires or frosts and are found in relatively acid soils. Primary productivity is high, but can be limited by mild summer drought. The canopies are evergreen, dominated by species with glossy- or leathery-leaves, and with moderate tree diversity. Insects are the most important herbivores, but birds and bats are the predominant seed-dispersers and pollinators. Decomposers such as invertebrates, fungi, and microbes on the forest floor are critical to nutrient cycling.[2]

These conditions of temperature and moisture occur in four different geographical regions:

Some laurel forests are a type of cloud forest. Cloud forests are found on mountain slopes where the dense moisture from the sea or ocean is precipitated as warm moist air masses blowing off the ocean are forced upwards by the terrain, which cools the air mass to the dew point. The moisture in the air condenses as rain or fog, creating a habitat characterized by cool, moist conditions in the air and soil. The resulting climate is wet and mild, with the annual oscillation of the temperature moderated by the proximity of the ocean.

Laurel forests are characterized by evergreen and hardwood trees, reaching up to 40 metres (130 ft) in height. Laurel forest, laurisilva, and laurissilva all refer to plant communities that resemble the bay laurel.

Some species belong to the true laurel family, Lauraceae, but many have similar foliage to the Lauraceae due to convergent evolution. As in any other rainforest, plants of the laurel forests must adapt to high rainfall and humidity. The trees have adapted in response to these ecological drivers by developing analogous structures, leaves that repel water. Laurophyll or lauroid leaves are characterized by a generous layer of wax, making them glossy in appearance, and a narrow, pointed oval shape with an apical mucro or "drip tip", which permits the leaves to shed water despite the humidity, allowing respiration. The scientific names laurina, laurifolia, laurophylla, lauriformis, and lauroides are often used to name species of other plant families that resemble the Lauraceae.[6] The term Lucidophyll, referring to the shiny surface of the leaves, was proposed in 1969 by Tatuo Kira.[7] The scientific names Daphnidium, Daphniphyllum, Daphnopsis, Daphnandra, Daphne[8] from Greek: Δάφνη, meaning "laurel", laurus, Laureliopsis, laureola, laurelin, laurifolia, laurifolius, lauriformis, laurina, , Prunus laurocerasus (English laurel), Prunus lusitanica (Portugal laurel), Corynocarpus laevigatus (New Zealand Laurel), and Corynocarpus rupestris designate species of other plant families whose leaves resemble Lauraceae.[6] The term "lauroid" is also applied to climbing plants such as ivies, whose waxy leaves somewhat resemble those of the Lauraceae.

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