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Nature can amaze us with its gentle presence on each corner of the Earth. Ecuador, a country with many microclimates and an exceptional biodiversity, generates oxygen from each leaf and tree that grows free on its forests within the Andes, the Pacific Coast, the Amazon and the Galápagos Islands. Ecuadorian forests amazes for its unique beauty with trees of many colors, shapes, aromas and sizes. So here is a quick guide to the Ecuadorian main unique forests.
Life on flooded forests
The Cuyabeno Wildlife Production Reserve consists on lots of ecosystems and regions completely flooded most of the year if not year round. The water Guarangos (Caesalpinia spinosa) are the local trees that grows close the river banks in the Cuyabeno and Lagartococha, sites that remain flooded most of the year. They grow in the dark rich waters that surrounds the Amazonian lagoons. The Cuyabeno reserve is one of the most megadiverse sites in the world where you may observe anacondas, reptiles, pink dolphins, otters, turtles and a vast sort of orchids and flowers that may appear in the most unexpected places. Plus, the region is inhabited by the Siona, Secoya, Cofán, Kichwa and Shuar communities that showcases with their only presence the country’s cultural diversity.
Aromatic yellow flowers
Each year, Nature displays an spectacular scene on the arid forests of the southern Ecuador. Along with the first rains in winter comes the blossom of the giant Guayacanes (Guaiacum officinale) that enlightens the earth with the color of the sun. Yellow flowers open to the air releasing their aromas for a couple of days until they fall to the ground on a huge loosen yellow rag. It’s an almost 99000 acres forest that blossoms 7 days a year in Mangahurco, Cazaderos and Bolaspamba from late December to early January. It is then when thousands of tourists come to enjoy this natural spectacle from a camping site while tasting a local culinary delight: “chivo al hueco”, in english “goat on the hole” for it is slowly cooked on a hole in the ground.
Stories written on paper trees
In the Andean region, over 3500 MASL, grows the polylepis tree also known by locals as the paper tree. The Andean moorlands is the ideal place for this old trees where the bunnies and other wonderful creatures hide. It’s a native Latin-american tree with a trunk, all covered in brown layers of a paper like bark, that tends to bend and twist on whimsical shapes. The name Polylepis is, in fact, derived from the Greek words poly (many) plus letis (layers), referring to the shredding, multi-layered bark that is common to all species of the genus. Ecuador has the last remaining polylepis forests in the ‘El Ángel’ Reserve with centennial trees which people say are 4000 years old.
Pink clouds in summer
The Arupos (Chionanthus pubescens) are endemic ornamental trees from Ecuador that usually blooms in July and August. Many parks and touristic sites in the Andes are their home, such as the Independence Square in Quito’s historic center. They can reach out to 400 inches tall and they bloom in white and pink flowers, being the white ones the rarest ones. It’s scientific name is Chionanthus pubescens, which means flowers of snow. The trees remains green until summer when they lose all the leaves and finally blossom with pink pompons that lasts 40 days.
Strong mangrove roots
Colossal mangroves (Rhizophora) up to 2000 inches tall, the highest in the world, grow in the Cayapas-Mataje Mangroves Ecological Reserve, in the Esmeraldas province. Its inhabitants preserves the floated forest ecosystem that is part of the Ecuadorian National System of Protected Areas since 1996. The San Lorenzo, Borbón, La Tola and Limones population collects shells and crabs from the mangroves. In addition, in this area it is possible to know the Afro-Ecuadorian culture expressed in their songs, dances and music, to the rhythm of the marimba.