Saturday, October 22, 2016

El Yunque National Forest

Luquillo Mountains from the Yokahu Observation Tower

The El Yunque National Forest encompasses 28,000 acres in Northeast Puerto Rico. It is one of the smallest in the National Forest system, the only tropical forest, and the most biodiverse. In 1876 the Luquillo Forest was decreed a forest resrve of 10,000 acres by the Spanish Crown. It was proclaimed a S.S. forest reserve in 1907, by Theodore Roosevelt.

Yokahu Tower, easily reachable by car.

Another view from the tower, this time of the cloud forest..
Since I was traveling with my elderly husband, I was fairly restricted in my hiking/viewing opportunites. However, there is much beauty to be seen along the very narrow, winding road and on shorter, well marked trails.

There are many waterfalls in El Yunque.
Cocoa Falls is right along the road..
As was this lovely scene.
 There was also a Banaquit building a nest, right
 over the road, but too shadowed to get good pictures.

Flowers were everywhere

The Hibiscus (Thespia grandiflora) is the state flower

Red Ginger , Alpina purpurata

Can also be pink 

The flowers are inconspicuous among the bracts.
Ginger is native to Maylasia.

A field of Heliconia

Heliconia psittacorum

Firespike, Odontonema strictum. Native to Central America, it has escaped cultivation

A gecko explores a Purple Spike Bromeliad.
Aechmea genus. Aichme in Greek means spear.


                                                               Palm Flowers

I prefer not posting pictures with out ID's. These were too beautiful to pass up...

                                                   Trees and other Plants

There are over 240 endemic, introduced, and exotic species of trees and other plants in the Luquillo Forest.  There are four forest types: Tabonuco, Colorado, Palm and Dwarf. I met only a hapgazrad few of the trees.        

A Sierra Palm forest, overtaking the The Bano De Oro,
 built in the 1930's by the CCC

My favorite Tree is a is a Fern
(Fern Class, Polypoidiopsida, Order Dicksonia).

Tree Fern frond unfurling.
They do a delicate dance in the wind.

A Pearly Eyed Thrasher (Maragatus fuscatus) perches in a legume tree (Family Fabaceae).
I must confess, this was taken in a parking lot...

Cercopia schreberiana, a native tree with distinctive leaves.

This Magnolia relative forms dense stands in the Luquillo Forest.

Cercropia schreberiana is a pioneer species
and  takes advantage of disturbances.
Those are it's finger-like fruits.  
Big Tree Trail

This 300 year old Asubo tree may have been planted by a bat.
Asubo was a prized wood for Spanish ship building.

The Laurel Sabino (Magnolia splendens) is found only in El Yunque.
This one  supports a diverse community of vines, ferns, epiphytes and other plants.

Many trees provide support for Epiphytes, here Bromeliads.
Lizards like it too!

I didn't see this lizard when I took the picture/

Philodendron vine

Philodendrons can also be trees.
 (Philodendron bipinnatifidm(?)

Tree snails (Caracolus caracola) make their homes in the forest.

A Ceiba pantandra tree, native to Mexico.

It is not easy to eat

Eucalyptus, a long way from home (Australia)

Tree of the Tabebuia genus,
native to American tropics and subtropics
as well as Mexico and Argentina(wikipedia).

The leaves.
It is found in the Dwarf Forest.

A Red-Legged Thrush (Turdus plumbeus) enjoys the trees.
Zenaida Dove (Zenaida autra) at the Visitors Center

The Visitors Center is worth a visit

I hope nature will prevail!

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness~ John Muir