Puerto Rico has a vast historical history, but on an island that is 110 miles x 36 miles you can find eight ecosystems. Each are diverse and unique in their own way each play important roles for the island, some protect the coastal regions from erosion others supply shelter and food for the islands fauna!
But between its history and diverse ecosystems are the three natural treasures or “National Treasures” that define the true icons of the Puerto Rico people and are known island wide!
La Ceiba – Ceiba is the name of a genus of many species of large tree found in tropical areas, including Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, West Africa and Southeast Asia. Some species can grow to 70 m (230 ft) tall or more, with a straight, largely branchless trunk that culminates in a huge, spreading canopy, and buttress roots that can be taller than a grown person. This tree has its own rich history in Puerto Rico, Ceiba Tree Park located in Ponce Puerto Rico, its centerpiece is the historic Ceiba de Ponce, a 500-year-old Ceiba pentandra tree associated with the founding of the city.
La Maga – The flower of this tree is known as Flora de Maga, as is the official national flower of Puerto Rico. The flower itself is very beautiful and is also called a Hibiscus in English, but it belongs to a different group or species of the true hibiscus. The tree its self is known as Thespesia grandiflora a tree in the Malvaceae family of the Rosids order. Its English common name is maga. This tree is widely distributed throughout the island of Puerto Rico where it is endemic. Its Spanish common name in Puerto Rico is maga Although originally found to grow in the humid mountains of limestone in the western and north-central portions of the Island, today it grows everywhere in Puerto Rico due to its extensive cultivation. It is also grown as an ornamental tree in Florida, Hawaii, Honduras and in various Caribbean islands. The maga is used as an ornamental plant, but the wood of the tree itself is valued elsewhere for its durable timber.
La Reinita – The bananaquit is a small bird, although there is some degree of size variation across the various subspecies. Length can range from 4 to 5 in (10 to 13 cm). Weight ranges from 5.5 to 19 g (0.19 to 0.67 oz).
Most subspecies of the bananaquit have dark grey (almost black) upperparts, black crown and sides of the head, a prominent white eye stripe, grey throat, white vent, and yellow chest, belly and rump.
The sexes are alike, but juveniles are duller and often have a partially yellow eyebrow and throat.
In the subspecies bahamensis and caboti from the Bahamas and Cozumel, respectively, the throat and upper chest are white or very pale.
The bananaquit has a slender, curved bill, adapted to taking nectar from flowers. It sometimes pierces flowers from the side, taking the nectar without pollinating the plant. It also feeds on sweet juices by puncturing fruit with its beak, and will eat small insects on occasion. While feeding, the bananaquit must always perch as it cannot hover like a hummingbird.
These small birds are commonly seen in the El Yunque National forest and more so heard above head in the canopy some 60′ to 125’ feet above head!
Thank you for reading and I Hope to See you Under the Canopy!
El Yunque Tours
Michael S. Grasso Jr.