Trees are Colombia’s most important plant. They provide us with oxygen, stabilize our soil, absorb our carbon and shelter and feed our wildlife, besides providing us with valuable raw materials. Here are five Colombian trees that are key to our diversity:
Quindio Wax Palm
The wax palm (palma de cera) is Colombia’s best-loved tree and is so symbolic, it’s the country’s national tree. These palms are native to the Cocora Valley, in Quindio, north-west Colombia, where they grow between 2,500 and 2,800m above sea level. They are the world’s tallest palm trees, growing up to 60m tall (200ft) and can live for up to 100 years. They are a popular hang-out for birds, particularly the rare yellow-eared parrot.
Mahogany (caoba or palo santo in Spanish, and whose scientific name is Swietenia mahoganior Swietenia macrophylla) is found in the north of Colombia, in areas including the north of Santander, Santa Marta and Uraba. This tree can grow up to 45m tall but it is most famous for the quality of its rich, shiny wood. Mahogany is exported across the world and is used to make everything from musical instruments and luxury furniture to boats and wooden sculptures.
The Colombian oak (also known as the Andean oak or roble) is a beautiful evergreen that grows across the Colombian Andes, at altitudes up to 3,200m. This tree, which grows up to 25m tall, has small yellow flowers and acorns, which provide an important food source for birds including the rusty-faced parrot and the Fuertes parrot. Both are endemic to the Colombian Andes and rely heavily on the Colombian oak for food and shelter.
The ceiba is probably the most stunning tree in Colombia, a species that loves tropical areas and can grow up to a whopping 70m (230ft) tall with a bare, straight trunk that culminates in an enormous canopy (the ceiba’s buttress roots, which it needs to balance, are often so big a person can stand inside them) Giant ceiba trees can be found across Colombia including Huila, Cauca, the Amazon rainforest and Parque Gallineral in San Gil.
Colombian mahogany (Cariniana pyriformis) is a much-sought after tree, particularly in the building trade because its wood is so strong and sturdy. In Colombia it is found as far afield as Putumayo, Uraba, Choco, the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and the Amazon, where it can grow up to 40m tall. Projects are now in place to safeguard the Colombian mahogany and ensure that when it is felled for trade, it is felled sustainably.
Beautiful trees that are essential to our planet’s survival? The answer is Colombia. If you liked this article please feel free to share it on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any of your social networks.
You may also enjoy: