The vegetation, like the rainfall, is concentrated in the Paraná Plateau and diminishes toward the west. Tall broadleaf trees, some evergreen and some deciduous, cover eastern Paraguay, thinning out on the red sandy soils of the hilly perimeter. Scrub woodland and palm also dot the sandy plateau areas. Between the semideciduous forest and the Paraguay River, the vegetation is mostly the savanna type mixed with scattered palms. In contrast, the Chaco supports primarily deciduous scrub woodlands, luxuriant along the Paraguay River but becoming more and more xerophytic as the rainfall decreases toward the west.
The eastern forests abound in hardwoods, including indigenous varieties such as urunday, cedron, curupay, and lapacho. Softwoods are scarce. In the northern Chaco, along the Paraguay River, there are scattered stands of quebracho and many large, spreading trees, such as the ceiba. Medicinal herbs, shrubs, and trees abound, as well as some dyewoods. Yerba maté, a holly popularly used in tea, grows wild in the northeast.
Animals found in Paraguay include the jaguar (especially numerous in the Chaco), wild boar, capybara, deer, armadillo, anteater, fox, brown wolf, carpincho, and tapir. Paraguay abounds with crocodiles along its watercourses, and the boa constrictor thrives in the west. The carnivorous piranha is common.