Sunday, December 26, 2010

Macaronesian Dryopteris, their habitat is a paradise.

They are unique and beautiful endemics, living off the moisture that gives them almost daily the wonderful natural phenomenon called horizontal rain, typical of all islands that form the Macaronesia and responsible for the existence of lush laurel forests, which cover north and west of the westernmost islands unaffected by the dry winds of the Sahara Desert. Laurel forests are true relics of the Tertiary, which has remained virtually unchanged for the past 20 million years ago and came to cover much of Europe. In addition to the Macaronesian islands, are also laurel forests with combinations of various evergreen trees and shrubs in other regions with similar climate, warm and humid, which is the phenomenon of the entrance to the sea breeze.

Horizontal rain, without which the existence of endemic Dryopteris would not be possible is the condensation of moisture-laden sea breeze, which is sometimes as dense as the clouds over the leaves of trees, shrubs and ferns laurel, where it loses its gaseous state and becomes liquid water dripping in wealth as if it were a real rain, reaching up small streams. This almost daily water supply allows it to grow lush vegetation on islands like the Canaries where the real rain is rather limited.

Erica arborea top with its branches bent under the weight of condensed water on their leaves just in time to be swept by the sea breeze laden with moisture. A few seconds later the sun shone again and we could hear the drops of water falling from the treetops like a real rain. Picture taken in a forest in the municipality of San Pedro on the island of La Palma. 

He lived in person this phenomenon in the three northernmost islands and I assure you is an experience never forgotten. Is shining a bright sun and suddenly you see coming into a gray mist that runs at high speed and within seconds completely envelops you, it gets dark, you can not see anything two feet, we note in the face caress icy and wet breeze that causes the chills, as if it were an icy hand, you feel very cold, clothing, hair and face are soaked and believe to be in another world. Everything ends in a few seconds and returns to shine a bright sun, while watching as the fog sweeping away the tops of the trees and bushes, leaving the leaves on the water of life, dripping into their roots soaking the soil decomposed leaves, acting like a sponge and hold moisture as the most precious of all treasures.

Picture taken at the precise moment of transition from a thick sea fog on a dense Fayal-brezal in Llanos de Aridane of  the Isla de la Palma.

In this habitat live Dryopteris oligodonta paradise, endemic to the westernmost Canary Islands, where it is called male fern. It is especially abundant in the beautiful Bosque de los Tiles of the Isla de la Palma.

Old Dryopteris oligodonta in the thick gloom of a Garoé, Til or source tree, Ocotea foetens, typical of the laurel forest. The Guanches on the island of Hierro worshiping a majestic Garoé, whose impressive cup condensed water every day so he only supplied them. To collect small tanks built around him. Unfortunately, in 1610, this legendary tree-source was uprooted by a strong hurricane.

Majestic trunk of Til or Garoé, Ocotea foetens, in Bosque de Los Tiles paradise, a veritable Garden of Eden, a must for lovers of ferns and anyone who needs to find peace of mind in this crazy world of suicide. 

Walking under the trees antediluvian, humidity, the smell of good soil, indescribable silence, broken only by the tinkling of raindrops falling horizontal precipitated from the heights of the tops of the tiles, laurels, barbusanos, viñatigos, fayas, mocanes, heathers ..., creating streams and small waterfalls and the sound of the endemic pigeons rabiche and turque absolutely essential to the survival of the laurel forest, as they feed on small fruit trees and shrubs and then disperse seeds with their droppings.  

Further north, on the island of Madeira, live Dryopteris maderensis, endemic to this beautiful Portuguese island, very abundant in the more enlightened clear the undergrowth of laurel that cover steep hillsides of this volcanic island. Walking along the top of Mount poise at 1,500 meters I was suddenly surrounded by a thick fog that left me soaked. For several minutes I could not walk, they saw nothing. Soon the sun shone again and saw how far away the fog as moisture covering the beautiful Erica maderincola, endemic to Madeira.

In the distance you can see the blanket of fog that sweeps the tops of the Erica maderincola specially designed to capture the maximum moisture of the horizontal rain.

Dryopteris maderensis, surrounded by other fern seems moss, Selaginella kraussiana, feral alien, very abundant in Madeira and the Azores. Not bad at all given the Dryopteris growth as moss retains moisture by acting as a sponge.

And further north, deep in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, reminiscent of what could be the mythical Atlantis, the Azores are the most moist and fresh Macaronesia. In these horizontal rain reaches its peak. Climb to the top of a volcano in all its islands is an unforgettable experience that leaves an indelible imprint in our memory.

Crater on top of the central volcano of the island of Faial in the Azores Archipelago, called Caldeira do Faial, which in turn contains another small volcano and lake. Its external and internal sides are covered by lush vegetation, with many endemic Azorean. The silence is awesome and the beauty of this magical place is unforgettable. (Double click on the picture to enlarge)

On top of this volcano can be experienced daily the horizontal rain phenomenon, which is permanently wet vegetation. Grow up there Daboecia azorica endemic, spreading habit with creepers like a green carpet and pink, the Erica azorica, with its antediluvian appearance endemic fern and Dryopteris azorica and Dryopteris crispifolia.

Green and pink carpet Daboecia azorica with two copies of Dryopteris azorica and a few young Erica azorica.

Daboecia azorica tiny flowers of the family of Ericaceae in early May, which protrude above the carpet of leaves.

Double clicking on the picture is better appreciated the beauty of this endemic species, Erica azorica with antediluvian appearance and its leaves arranged in clusters to capture and condense more horizontal rain.

Dryopteris azorica the trunk of a giant Cryptomeria japonica. This conifer was introduced in the Azores as a timber tree to repopulate the land stolen from the laurel. His Azorean climate adaptation has been so successful that it has naturalized and is covered with vast forests on the slopes of the volcanic mountains of the archipelago.

In this picture you can appreciate the perfect harmony between the naturalized alien Cryptomeria japonica and endemic Dryopteris azorica and Dryopteris crispifolia, living very comfortable on the thick humus formed by decomposed leaves of Cryptomeria. 

And finally the Dryopteris crispifolia, a strange Azorean fern with curled fronds, who like the gaps between the thick vegetation. It is relatively abundant from 800 m.

Dryopteris crispifolia sprouting new fronds at the feet of a Erica azorica early May.

Dryopteris crispifolia curly frond. Top right is part of the naturalized and invasive alien Hydrangea macrophylla, a plant widely cultivated garden named Hortensia, who in the Azores Islands has become an environmental problem of great concern.

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