Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Cecropia Trip (Trumpet Tree)



Cecropia Tree (Thanks gettyimages)
It looks like this week is turning into interesting plant week. If we wanted to cover all the plants in Costa Rica during interesting plant week this blog would need 10,000 post before the end of the week. Yes, Costa Rica is home to 10,000 different species of plants which if you wanted to see them all on a Costa Rica Vacation I would suggest a helicopter to start. Because of Costa Rica's location in the tropics it makes for a perfect environment for so many different interesting species. Yesterday we talked about the Bromeliad which I'm sure has everyone fired up about todays plant. Drum-role....! Today's plant is The Cecropia (that was exciting!). If you have been to Costa Rica I can almost assure you that you have seen this plant.

The Cecropia is one of the fastest growing plants in the rainforest. This allows it to grow up fast and stick out from the brush in a secondary forest. They sprout up in "light gap" areas.  (Light-gap: Areas that have been cleared by fallen depri in the forest and now sun-light reaches the ground).  The reason why Cecropias are able to grow so fast is because they have an empty stem. This is very common of fast growing plants. This tree can grow many feet in just one year.

The Cecropias most interesting fact and if you are on a nature hike I am almost sure you might here this from your naturalist guide (You Should, if you do not hear this from one of our guides please contact our office info@crrtravel.com). This is the relationship between the Cecropia Tree and the Azteca ants. The ants actually use the tree for a source of food and in exchange because of the ants hard bit it defends the plant against predators. The Azteca ant only takes its food source from the tree to a point that the tree can afford to give without damaging itself. This is a perfect example of one of the most amazing things of nature called SYMBIOSIS!

Along with forty different other species of plants the sloth eats the leaves of the Cecropia. You will hear many guides and books say that the Cecropia is the favorite food of the sloth. The fact is that the Cecropia has a narrow trunk and long extended branches which only has leaves at the end of it's branches which are in the shape of a hand. This makes seeing the hard-to-see sloth very easy to see when in the Cecropia tree. So the Cecropia is the most common plant to see the sloth because it is the easiest for us to see it in and who really knows if it is the favorite.

If you go on the Pacuare Rafting adventure you will see this plant. It is very common and you can see it almost driving anywhere in Costa Rica. On your next Costa Rica adventure keep an eye out for the Cecropia Tree.

Costa Rican Nature Experts
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