Tuesday, March 31, 2009

“fruit of Pejibaye (Bactris gasipaes)

Of all planetary beings, humans have exploited palms to the highest degree, ranking with grasses and legumes as one of the most nutritionally-rich plant groups on the planet. Particularly for indigenous cultures of Costa Rica, native palms (specifically, the Pejibaye) are a major caloric intake on a regular and renewable basis. Furthermore, the traditional Indian family lives in a house where the floors and walls are made from palm trunk, the thatch roof from the palm leaves, cook the palm fruits, drink fermented beverages from palm fruits, make weapons from hard palm trunk to hunt wild animals (who also feed on the palm fruits). Furthermore, palms provide materials for making toys, household utensils, ornaments, jewelry, musical instruments, and more. Indians of the Americas can be accurately termed to as a palm culture; palms provide for nearly all their material necessity, as well as enriching their spiritual lives, as revealed in myth, religion, and origins of the world.

In the last half century, scientific study of the native palm has boomed. Science is beginning to recognize what indigenous cultures have known since ancient times, the vital role palms play in the tropical ecosystem.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Palms and the Tropical Americas - Cocos nucifera, commonly known as beach coconut

In the popular imagination, palms symbolize the epitome of tropical landscape. Coconut trees are nearly synonymous with the Caribbean, and with good reason, as palms are confined almost exclusively with to the tropics, finding their niche in all tropical conditions, and filling nearly every habitat. Palms are one of the world’s largest plant families with more than 200 genera of palms and 1500 species worldwide! Palms of the Americas can be found between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, numbering 67 genera and 550 species.
Besides being attractive and appealing to the senses, palms play a major role in tropical ecosystems. Native palms naturally provide erosion control along mangroves and waterways, as well as habitat for numerous animals, and are a food source for diverse animals such as peccaries, monkeys, toucans, parrots, migratory birds, and many other mammals, birds, fish and insects. For many of these animals, palms are a major component of their diet.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ecologically Friendly Tips for your Jungle Home and Business Gardens - PART II

Plant and Maintain the Guarumo (Cecropia sp.) Trees in your Garden.

Myth: The Guarumo trees are dangerous trees because they grow tall and angularly.

No lot is too small for the Guarumo tree (Cecropia peltata L.). She is the most amiable, resourceful, and dependable tree family (Cecropiaceae) we have in our jungle home and business garden. First, most wildlife eat or use her: the monkeys, orlapengula birds, sloths, tucans, birds of prey, and ants are consistently found in these trees. Secondly, she makes herself of interlocking fibrous segments which allow her to grow tall and angularly, yet, securely. Thirdly, she’s so amiable that she grows in harmony with existing trees; that’s why she is always at an angle. Fourthly, the Guarumo trees are medicinal (we same humans use the leaves medicinally), with large, attractive palmate leaves.

Create your own Carbon Source.

There is no reason to burn, as everything brown and dry in your garden (for example, dry leaves, limbs, pods, bark, husks, clippings, etc.) serves a purpose. It is your available carbon source that should be packed up around your cherished trees and plants. When we burn these precious jungle by-products, we deplete our carbon reserves that unlock the secrets of our pores clay soil. Mother Nature depends on the top-coat of carbon source to create lush hummus to work her jungle magic.

World Change starts in our individual hearts. Be Fearless, Choose Love.

Myth: You don’t have to cut it all down and cover it with gravel to protect yourself.

We all have the capacity to create kinship and safety with all life through our magnetic thoughts, words and actions. I recommend consciously creating the domain in your home and business jungle garden as “I won’t trouble you if you don’t trouble me,” with all your jungle flora and fauna.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ecologically Friendly Tips for your Jungle Home and Business Gardens - PART I

“Remarkably diverse, and extraordinarily rich”, is Costa Rica’s combined flora and fauna. Because Costa Rica lies on the isthmian link that has made possible the dramatic interchange of biota between the previously separated North and South American continents, it hosts 800 species of birds, 350 species of amphibians and reptiles and 8000 species of higher plants. The enormous and tragic devastation of tropical forest, unfortunately promises to continue into the 21st century, despite the best efforts of all who care for it (Janzen, 1983). Thanks to contemporary Costa Rica environmental legislature, it is no longer at the hands of large logging interests, modern destruction is due to the suburbanization of the jungle, commonly referred to as the domestication of small plots of land or “lots.”
Yet, it does not have to be like this. New and existing land owners of this beautiful Talamancan jungle have an opportunity to be guardians of the jungle diversity we co-habitat. The following are a few jungle friendly practices we can all employ to support and maintain our flora and fauna diversity.

Pack up you plant droppings, clippings and rakings below your cherished trees and plants; and along your property lines.

We live in a unique environment of tightly packed, pores clay soil. The secret to unlocking this rich soil lies in the quantity of mulch or dry decaying material we provide it. When we rake it naked we further shut down the tightly packed pores clay, and deny it the forum to absorb nutrients. Our goal is to mimic Mother Nature while creating a safe and comfortable setting for our families and ourselves. It is a fine and delicate balance for sure.

Respect and Cherish the Creeks, Drains and Swamps.

All local creeks, drains and swamps provide valuable resources to all jungle and human life. These precious waterways purify our drinking water in its flow toward our community watersheds. Therefore, it is against Costa Rican law to chop, clean or alter within 10m of a creek in an urban or suburban setting, within 15m of a rural setting, and within 50m of a creek with surrounding land inclination of 30 degrees or more.

Refrain from the use of Pesticides and Herbicides especially in drains and waterways.

All of the land we co-habitat here in the Talamancas is coastal slope; that means it all drains to our wells and then to the sea, and rapidly. With an average annual rainfall of 134” in the province of Limon, dangerous chemicals (that are manufactured in other countries and outlawed in those same other countries!) are ineffectual to their targeted noxious weed, before they are washed away down slope and toxic to wild, human and sea life.

Be a Friend of the Coconut Walk.

The 50m of the coastal tide line: the sole natural habitat of the coconut; the transition of jungle and sea, public and private lands, is endearingly referred to as the coconut walk. It is a delicate and fragile ecosystem, which over the past 100 years has suffered from blight to now human destruction.
Understandably so, the desire of the modern business owner is to clean the coconut walk for the enjoyment and the safety of the tourist. However, the coconut walk does not like to be well manicured. If one wants to clean up the coconut walk for recreation and safety, it is best to pack up the droppings, clippings and rakings around the bases of the existing trees and shrubs in the coconut walk. The coconut and associated trees (noni, almond, sea grape) depend on the nutrients and protection they receive from the so-called “debris” of the coconut walk.

Plant Native Species in your Jungle Garden.

The integrity of our biodiversity here in the Talamancas depend s upon our conscious reforestation of native plant species. For instance, we are currently witnessing the endangering and extinction of native shade palms, and worse, the introduction of non-native, aggressive and evasive species. Insist and support native plant nurseries. Practice the art of nature-scaping.

Create Habitat in Your own Garden for Local Fauna.

As good jungle stewards (and lovers of wildlife in our yard, right?), we need to provide habitat for the animals with whom we co-habitat. When we plant trees and shrubs that are “feeders” (food source), we directly provide scarce food source, and nesting sites for our wildlife friends. Not to mention the fact we gain invaluable entertainment and joy for ourselves.