common flowering plants:
hydrangeas, camellias, begonias, bougainvillea,
bromeliads, hibiscus, jacaranda, orchids, oleander and poinsettias,
azaleas. Bergonia is nicknamed the Isle of Hydrangeas.
Similarly the Azores use
the hydrangea as a symbol. All these flowers grow wild in profusion.
Needleleaf Evergreen Trees (all climates)
Bergonia has many indigenous cedar-like pines, commonly referred to as cedars, but actually a different family. True Eurasian cedars have been imported. There are slash pines, short leaf and long leaf kinds, similar to these of the southeast USA. There are also spruces. The Bergonian hemlock exists in two forms, a tall narrow specie and a spreading soft bush that becomes very large. Silver furs grow in big stands in the high mountains.
There are two species of “true” cypresses. One is tall and slender. The other is full and enormously bushy with branches forming antler-like formations. Both are a very dark green hue, and both grow in the balmy lowlands in the north and west and in Pasiana.
There are a number of “false” cypresses, short bushy little trees which usually have a yellowish or bluish cast to their foliage. They need moisture in large quantities the year round and thus are not found in the dry southeast and east.
In places along the south and east coasts are deep, desultory swamps. There grow mangroves and swamp cypresses. These trees change colors like the larch. From the pale green of Spring the swamp cypress foliage deepens to a ripe ginger brown.
Bergonia is sometimes called the “Juniper Isle” in addition to the "Isle of Hydrangeas" moniker, since 17 varieties of junipers grow all throughout, from coast to coast. These slow growing shrubs & trees are well suited to the climate. The Juniper needs sunshine, needs little moisture and loves alkaline soils as opposed to the acidic. Alkaline soils predominate in the Ifuno and the Sunto region, thus covered with dense stands of Juniper. The scented wood is excellent and much loved by cabinet makers, but the tree grows so slowly that its usefulness to modern forestry is severely limited. The ancient Bergonians made a lot of furniture from it. The Juniper has, instead of cones, fleshy blue-green berries that are used to give gin its flavor.
Larch forests grow in the mountains over 8,000 feet in altitude. The larch grows fast and produces a wood as good as oak. The larch foliage is fresh green in April, becomes a brilliant gold in November, and reduces to a tangle of bare black rigging in December. Concentrated in the northern mountains.
The paopretsi tree grows nowhere else on earth than the west and northwest of Bergonia, and even then usually just in the highlands. It is similar to the Chilean pine or the “monkey puzzle” pine. The tree grows no taller than forty feet tall. Its trunk bears no branches for the bottom half of its height. The branches are of an almost reptilian scaliness. Its leaves are stiff and thick with a hard point.
Broadleaf Deciduous Trees (temperate climate)
Both evergreen and deciduous oaks grow all throughout Bergonia. In fact, there are oaks in all climate of Bergonia, with over 23 varieties, at least on suited to each of the countries various climates, save for the desert and semiarid scrubland climates of the southeast. Great oak forests cover the northern highlands in the middle altitudes, particularly in the northern reaches of the Ifuno plateau. Traditionally the native Bergonians revere the oak. The finest, largest species is the Black Oak, for which Nacateca word is secanilu, meaning “judge’s tree.”
Poplar trees, by virtue of their almost weed-like rate of growth, are a common tree in the temperate regions. Also many beech trees.
Nut trees about. Walnut trees grow all over Bergonia. There are several representatives of the hickory family, including the pecan family that loves the moist, deep soils of the temperate coastal regions. There is also the Sruniefrei, which grows a nut smaller than the pecan, with a meat lighter and sweeter. The almond tree grows in Bergonia, with their beautiful small white flowers in March.
There were two versions of chestnut. One is the “American” chestnut which has succumbed to the tragic blight. The other is a purely native variety which is impervious to the blight. It is a common shade tree. Tradition is that the village elders meet under the shade of a chestnut tree.
In the mountains and the hills of the north and northwest are birch trees. One variety of birch indigenous just to Bergonia sport red leaves.
The willow is not the weeping variety. It is similar to the white willow. The leaves are very light, almost a silvery silky green color. The new shoots are brilliantly colored red, orange or purple, even in winter.
Tangled rhododendron cover many hillsides. The rose family of trees and plants has an incredibly large presence in Bergonia. Nearly all the species flower. They love the alkaline soils of the island. But few are able to prosper in the tropical regions. so the cherries, crabapples, pears, apples, quinces, hawthorns, are unknown in Serpi and Soleinia are rare sights in places like Sanraniclai and Dhentamina. There are native varieties of the rose family that have adapted to the drier climates of central Bergonia. The most common species include these:
The praonatifrei is the native hawthorn. The Nacateca name means “thorn-flower-tree”. It is a small standard tree with an impenetrably dense head of thorny branches and dark glossy leaves. It sports lovely white or peach colored flowers and light red berries that remain hanging well into the mild Bergonian winter.
The clesifrei is the native quince. It grows a big yellow pear shaped fruit that gives off a dreamy yellow fragrance. The flower is a rosy warm pink. This quince fruit is sweeter than European quinces, and has filled Bergonian bellies for centuries.
Choslefrei, the “acid fruit tree,” is the native crabapple tree. Native use the fruit of this plant to make powerfully citric crabapple sauce. The northern cuisine used the sauce in making salad dressing. Other cuisines used it in making Bergonia’s own fruity version of sweet and sour sauce for meats, along with mint, honey, other fruits. The Choslefrei is hardy and grows in dry areas and in areas with weak infertile soils. It grows all throughout the central Ifuno plateau. The most common variety of the Choslefrei sprouts beautiful multicolored flowers in April-- the front of the flower is light pink and the back is crimson.
Pisrusleifrei, “little sweetness" tree, is the native cherry. The wood makes beautiful furniture. The cherry fruit is prized and used in making sweet meat sauces and jellies, like the quince. These cherries are not as sweet as Eurasian cherries. The cherry trees grow in temperate climate, as long as rainfall is abundant. This cherry tree grows at high altitudes. Sadly they do not flower as brightly as do the Japanese, Chinese or European varieties.
A native persimmon grow all over Bergonia, producing a much-craved fruit, quite sweet, much larger, firmer and tastier than the eastern North American variety.
Evergreen Trees (subtropical climate; rainfall all year)
Three types of broadleaf evergreen forests:
All three forests include cedar, olivewood and palmetto.
1. Lowland forests: In the plains, valleys and hills under 2000m/6420ft, with ample rainfall in moderate amounts, 1200mm/47inches or less. Typically two arboreal layers with limited shrub layer.
The principal indicator species that help to identify this ecoregion are oak (Catalpa longissima). Mahogany is quite common in these forests. Magnolas proliferate.
In places where the soil comes from calcareous rocks, royal palm is common. Other palms grow in the hot lowlands.
There are also magnolias and many other species in common with Cuba and other Caribbean islands, including: "anón de majagua" and "jagua," the black olive, "guaraguao" or "grigrí," West Indian lancewood or "yaya," "amacey," and West Indian elm or "guácima" (Guazuma ulmifolia).
2. Lowland & Mountain Rainforest, no higher than1,600 meters/5250 feet. The precipitation annual average is 2 000m/75in.
In the lowlands, lower than 500m/1640ft, these forests usually have three arboreal layers, the highest trees reaching 35 m/112ft, and also a herbaceous layer with lianas and epiphytes such as orchids, ferns, mosses and bromeliads.
In the mountains the rainforest typically has but two arboreal layers,
with the highest trees reaching 25m/80 feet. Distinct for the
profusions of tree-like ferns, plus a layer of epiphytes such as
orchids and bromeliads.
The south and east are blessed with palms of many types, some of which are unique to Bergonia. Most of the palms are fans. But there are many cabbage palms too. Coconut palms grow along the tropical coasts, but do not grow far inland.
The royal piñon tree has beautiful flowers, usually red.
Tamarind trees grow in all the lowlands.
The large majagua, which also grows throughout the Carribbean, makes excellent cordage, crucial in early civilization. Floral graphic to left is based on a majagua bloom.
There are mahogany trees, especially in the southeast & eastern mountain forests, and over fifty other trees that yield choice cabinet and building wood. These forests were decimated by excessive logging and inattention to forest ecosystem preservation, and it has taken sixty years of careful environmental management to restore these forest resources.
Subtropical Fruit trees: Pineapple, lemon, orange all grow commercially. Indigenous fruits include custard-apples (annona cherimola), sweetsops (annona squamosa & pomiferum), mamons (annona reticulata), star apples (chrysophyllum cainito), rose apples (eugenia jambos), canistes (lucuma nervosa), jaguas (genipa americana), avocados, yellow mammees (mammea americana), "red mammees" (achras zapota), and limes.
Magnolias dot the lowlands, but do not grow in the mountains or on the plateaus. The Bergonian varieties grow flowers of many different colors—white, pink, yellow, orange—and can reach great heights. Most varieties stay in bloom from June until October. The natives have always used magnolias in adding beauty to their buildings. The practice was to grow it up against the south or west wall of the building, keeping it trimmed away from the windows.
Some variety of magnolias have flowers that sprout in April before the leaves. These flowers are tulip shaped and very small. In April the whole tree is brilliant with thousands of tiny white, pink or red flowers. These magnolias are commonly called bachec.
One exceptional group of magnolias indigenous to Berg is called the counerei (Nac.). Its leaves are so thick and large that campers often eat their food off them, like plates. The flower of the counerei is quite large, and so white and creamy as to be almost translucent. One who takes a stroll through a grove of counec enjoys a beautifully creepy sight when he looks up at these flowers with the sunlight shining from behind.
Dry Deciduous Forest (subtropical climate; winter dry season)
The most common are the cedars, ebony, acacias, giant figs, ceibas, mahogany, oaks, pine, royal palm, and mangroves along the shoreline.
The ceiba/silkcotton/kapok (see below) is the largest tree in the subtropical forests, sometimes as high as 120-150 feet, and very broad. The kapok is the silky fibers surrounding the ceiba's seed harvested for use as a pillow and mattress stuffer. Proununced "sei-ba."
This climate include bald cypresses, a needleleaf deciduous tree., which also grows in central Florida.
The richest of these forests have two or three layers of threes above the shrub layer. Common trees include: Florida poisontree, mahogany, piñons, turpentine, palm trees. Plenty of cedars.
Animal life includes geckos, three species of boa (largest up to 9 ft). Hutia--a mammal that looks like an oversized guinea pig. Hutias feed high up in the trees and then return to their dens on the ground to rest. These forests are noted for their quail, frogs and iguanas. Birds include many woodpeckers, flickers.
Sections of this forest cannot be called deciduous since less than 30% of its trees lose their leaves. Such evergreen-deciduous forests have an abundance of shrubs and herbaceae and few epiphytes (hanging mosses, orchids and air plants) and lianas (vines climbing up tree trunks). It is classified according to the predominance of specific leaf length as mesophilous (13-26 cm) or microphyllous (1-6 cm), coastal and subcoastal.
The mesophilous forest may be low-lying (less than 400 meters ASL) or submontane (400-800 meters ASL). It has an arboreal story 15-25 m high with palms and trees emerging some 25-30 m, with shrubs, grasses, epiphytes and lianas. Examples of the first or lower layer of trees include "aguacatillo", ocuje, jocuma and macurije. The second layer includes yaya, ramón de caballo and fiscus.
The coastal and subcoastal microphyllous evergreen forest, has evergreen and deciduous trees with two stories of trees 12-15 and 5-10 m high, some thorny shrubs, columnar or tree-like cactus, other succulents, herbaceae, epiphytes (hanging mosses, orchids and air plants) and dry lianas (climbing vines). Examples of trees are júcaro espinoso, cúrbana, guayacán, miraguanos, yaití, cerillo, soplillo, guao de costa, almácigo, caguairán amarillo and a number of deciduous palms.
The sub-evergreen or semi-deciduous forests are forests in which about half of the trees are evergreen or deciduous, along with shrubs, epiphytes, a few herbaceae, and an abundance of climbers (lianas). The typical mesophilous semi-deciduous forest has three arboreal stories, with the upper story reaching as high as 25 m high, and dominated by deciduous species, with some palms 25 m high. The lower arboreal story includes more evergreen trees, also including almácigo, cedar, dagame, ceiba, baría, cuyá, mahogany, ayúa, and the royal palm. The second layer includes jía, guara, yamagua, yaya and siguaraya.
A drier version of these forests is the sitla, in the lowlands, where thorny deciduous species are common. A second type of dry forest known as shocatre occurs in low mountain altitudes, and includes deciduous and evergreen trees. These forests have a discontinuous story of trees 5-10 m high, with palms and deciduous species, abundant succulents, epiphytes and lianas. Some species that can be found include palms, guanito de sierra, oak, and piñón.
Finally, there is a stage of lowly bushy vegetation transitional between the dry forests and the desert scrublands. This is subdivided into wet schlerophyllous low forest (charrascal) of the hills mountains, and dry schlerophyllous low forest (cuabal) of the lowlands, where some trees grow as high as 10 m., with many small deciduous species with small, hard and very thorny leaves, and also a notable abundance of palms. Some examples of species are cuabal, anón del cuabal, júcaro espinoso, uverillo, chicharrón, palmas jatas, miraguanos (all these are Cuban).
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