Setting Thesaurus: Jungle/Rainforest


Vines, ferns, lush foliage, tall trees (traveller's fan, Heliconia, trumpet trees, cahoon), dense undergrowth, fronds, lagoons, cliffs, rocky outcropping, downed trees, canopy blocking the sun, mosses, creepers, water vines, brown dead fall, mud, lizards, snakes, frogs, bugs, army ants, puma, baboons, gorillas, howler monkeys, tigers, boars, bamboo, waterfalls, creeks, lichen, banana trees, breadfruit, fig trees, taro, plant pods, spiders, leeches, bats, moths, twisting tree roots, cashew trees, praying mantis, iguanas, mosquitoes, scorpions, beetles, birds, termite nests (growths on trees), leaf cutter ants, toads, pineapple bushes, thorns, very few flowers, shiny leaves of all sizes, shapes and shades of green, rain, pooling water on leaves, swamp areas, rivers, fungi, natural breaks in vegetation or game trails, dripping water, hanging moss, twisting ropes of vines choking tree trunks, small clearings, brief flashes of sunlight or sky, trees growing on the sides of cliffs, vines winding down cliffs or crevices, rotting vegetation


bird calls, wings fluttering, monkey hoots/shrieks, animal movements (growls, grunts, snorts, paws hitting the ground, slithering, hissing, animal cries), running water (rushing creaks, waterfalls, rivers, streams or rain clattering off the leaves), one's own heavy breathing, leaves sliding past as you move, snapping through undergrowth, trees creaking, insects buzzing


stuffy & warm air, rotting vegetation, body odor, natural plant smells (sweet to attract insects/pollinators, bitter to ward them off), animal musk, flowers (few in the jungle--more in the rainforest)


Water, air thick on the tongue, edible leaves and root or fruits, prey caught and cooked over a fire (gamy, stringy, chewy, rubbery), stale breath, fresh rain


Slippery leaves, rough vines, crumbly wet ground underfoot in places, branches crackling, holding branches back, squeezing through a stand of bamboo & feeling the smooth wood against the chest and back, sweat running down the neck and face, slurping dew off a leaf, a jarring thwack resistance of a machete blade as you cut through difficult passages, spongy moss, cold water running over boots as you cross a creek, the rough burn of vines against the palm if you use them to climb, the bite of an insect, stings, splinters, scratching branches or spiny leaves, rain splattering down on the crown of your head, soaking you through instantly, dirt against the skin, leaves slapping against skin, swatting bugs away, feet hot & damp in their boots, grit under nails, plunging into a pool of water, the mist spray of a waterfall

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Dusk stained the glistening foliage with shadow and murk. As nightfall descended, the sounds of the jungle began to ebb. Uncertainty hung in the warm, wet air as the creatures began to prepare for the long stretch of darkness. Soon new sounds emerged: footfalls and the rumbling growls of predators walking their hunting ground.

Example 2:

I capped my lens and glanced up. Where had everyone gotten to?

"Hannah?" I called, peering between the thick, vine-choked trunks and the reaching leaves for the tour guide. Unbroken jungle stared back at me, giving no clues as to the path she and the rest of the group had taken. My camera weighed heavy from the strap at my neck. I'd only stopped for a moment, hadn't I? Yes, just long enough to get a shot of that iguana for my oldest. Then I spotted that branch with the line of leaf-cutter ants, but still...

I called again, louder, sharper, first trying Hannah's name, then throwing out those I could remember from the tour group. Someone would answer. They had to.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

Vines slithered down the cliff face like snakes, seeking the pool of tepid water below.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Lush vegetation trapped my movement, a huge web of slapping leaves, tripping vines and bamboo obstacles.


Lady Glamis said...

YES! This is exactly what I need right now for my Amazon jungle scenes. :) Thanks!

PJ Hoover said...

I was about to say "wait, don't these come on Saturdays" but then I realized it was Saturday :)

C.R. Evers said...

hmmmm . . . makes me want to go on a rain forest adventure!

Bish Denham said...

Great stuff! (As an aside...I saw breadfruit listed. I absolutely LOVE breadfruit. I wish I could get it here where I live.)

Angela said...

Glad we can help. Lady G!

Thanks PJ. I posted it a bit later than usual--maybe that messed you up, lol.

CR, I agree. I love tropical locals.

Thanks Bish. I've never tried it, but I'd love to.

Keri Mikulski said...

Love these posts.. :)