Though several of the bigger islands have an abundant growth of palm trees, there are others that have poor, sandy soil that supports only a few plants-bamboo, banana, mangroves, breadfruit trees, banyans, tropical vines and numerous coconut palms. The larger, wetter islands have small areas of rainforest. The main crops are limited to sweet potatoes, yams, taro, millet and watermelon, though in a few fertile islands citrus fruits and pineapples are grown as well.
Natural fauna is sparse-giant fruit bats, colorful lizards and the occasional rat. Domestic animals include cats, a few chickens, goats and some rabbits. The most exciting wildlife is under the water. Diving under the azure waters will enable one to see butterfly fish, angelfish, parrotfish, rock cod, unicorn fish, trumpet fish, blue-stripe snapper, Moorish idols, oriental sweet lips and more. Larger life forms, keenly sought by scuba diver The most common and the most conspicuous of all local vegetation is the coconut palm, which grows in abundance throughout the Maldives. They stand the tallest among the island vegetation and shape the island's tree line with their swaying palms. The coconut palm is the national tree of the Maldives and justly so. Maldivians have traditionally relied on the coconut palm for a variety of needs. The trunk was used to build dhonis, the fronds to wave cadjan for houses and the stems of the palm leaves were used to build fences and other temporary structures. The coconut in all its stages of growth from part of different recipes that are used for a variety of local delicacies. The husk is used for the production of coir rope, the shells for firewood and production of household utensils.
There are five categories of native vegetation throughout the archipelago, including 20 different species of grass and sedge that grow along the shoreline of the islands. Beyond this is an extensive growth of shrubs and pandanus trees. Here the Pemphis acidula (kuredhi) and Scaevola serica (magoo) dominates the vegetation.
In well-drained areas, the Hibiscus tiliaceus (dhiggaa) and the Cordian subcordata (kaani), which grows to a height of up to five metres, are found. Many of the larger islands have thick forests where Hernandia nymphaeifolia (kandoo) and Terminalia cattappa (midhili) are common. The tallest of all the trees found in the Maldives is the Ficus benghalensis or the banyan tree, as it is commonly known. s, include sharks, stingrays, manta rays, turtles and dolphins.
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