Trinidad and Tobago has some of the richest natural communities in the Caribbean. The plant life of Trinidad, like the geology of the island, resembles that of neighboring Venezuela. Tobago, by contrast, shows in its flora its connection with the volcanic Lesser Antillean arc.
As a result, Trinidad and Tobago is richer in plant species than is the rest of the Caribbean. However, indigenous rates are lower than in the rest of the Caribbean because most of the species in Trinidad & Tobago are also found on the South American mainland.
There are distinct altitudinal variations in indigenous plant life on both islands. The natural vegetation includes wild flowers, many flowering shrubs and trees, palms, giant aroids, and large broad-leaved varieties. Natural animal life includes a few species of mammals, monkeys among them, and many reptiles and birds.
Vegetation ranges from littoral woodland behind the beaches to montane rainforest and elfin woodland high in the mountains. Within these habitats are:
- 2,500 flowering shrubs, including 700 orchids
- 370 species of trees
- 300 species of ferns
Trinidad is home to The Royal Botanic Gardens, established in 1818. It is one of the oldest gardens in the West Indies which has had a continuous existence. The Gardens are comprised of twenty-five hectares of beautifully landscaped grounds located north of the capital city of Port of Spain. The gardens consist of approximately 700 trees of which 13% are indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago.