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Maricao

DNRE, Oct. 1976

The Maricao Forest lies at the western end of the Cordillera Central in Western Puerto Rico and is devided into two separate segments comprising 10,252 acres (4150 ha). The point of highest elevation is near the observation tower on Tetas de Cerro Gordo along Puerto Rico 120 (875 m) and the lowest point, the Río Cruces in the southern part of the Forest, at 15 m. This forest represents vegetation types of serpentine soils and probably ahs the most diversified flora of any area of the same size in Puerto Rico. Politically the forest is situated in the municipalities of Mayagüez, San German, Maricao and Sabana Grande, with the largest areas in the latter two. The Maricao Forest, established by the 1919 proclamation and was the only highland forest until the aquisition of Monte Guilarte (1935) and Toro Negro (1960).

Maricao Forest lies at the western terminus of a high precipitation belt that includes a large part of the Cordillera Central. Rainfall ranges from 70-75 mm during the months of January and February to approximately 350 mm during the months of August, September and October with a mean precipitation of 255 cm.

Mean monthly temperature varies from 20 degreees during February to 23 degrees during July, August and September with a mean annual temperature of 21.1 degrees C. Temperatures are undoubtedly somewhat cooler at higher elevations near the rifde of Tetas de Cerro Gordo. The Maricao forest probably has the most diversified flora. The forest's total known vascular flora of 845 species (278 reaching tree-size) , includes 123 species endemic to Puerto Rico and 20 endemic to Maricao. The rich species diversity of trees resulting in unique forest types occuring only in Puerto Rico may be due to the closed nutrient cycling, adequate rainfall received on well-aerated serpentine soils in addition to the unusual combination of physiographic features (serpentine and volcanic soils).

Five vegetation associations have been deliniated in three bioclimatic life zones. A dwarfed vegetation of evergreen, small leaved species occupies the narrow ridges, peaks, and summits exposed to strong winds and is probably unique to Puerto Rico. Along the ridges, and towards the windward slopes, large cushions of the rare raindeer moss form a unique element of the forest floor.

To view an incomplete checklist Click Here




Designed by Alexander Gershenson.
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Maricao Forest Reserve

DNRE, Oct. 1976

The Maricao Forest Reserve lies at the western end of the Cordillera Central in Western Puerto Rico and is divided into two separate segments comprising 10,252 acres (4150 ha). The point of highest elevation is near the observation tower on Tetas de Cerro Gordo along Puerto Rico 120 (875 m) and the lowest point, the Río Cruces in the southern part of the Forest, at 15 m. This forest represents vegetation types of serpentine soils and probably has the most diversified flora of any area of the same size in Puerto Rico. Politically the forest is situated in the municipalities of Mayagüez, San Germán, Maricao and Sabana Grande, with the largest areas in the latter two. The Maricao Forest, established by the 1919 proclamation and was the only highland forest until the acquisition of Monte Guilarte (1935) and Toro Negro (1960).

Maricao Forest lies at the western terminus of a high precipitation belt that includes a large part of the Cordillera Central. Rainfall ranges from 70-75 mm during the months of January and February to approximately 350 mm during the months of August, September and October with a mean precipitation of 255 cm.

Mean monthly temperature varies from 20 degrees during February to 23 degrees during July, August and September with a mean annual temperature of 21.1 degrees C. Temperatures are undoubtedly somewhat cooler at higher elevations near the ridge of Tetas de Cerro Gordo.

Five vegetation associations have been delineated in three bioclimatic life zones. A dwarfed vegetation of evergreen, small leaved species occupies the narrow ridges, peaks, and summits exposed to strong winds and is probably unique to Puerto Rico. Along the ridges, and towards the windward slopes, large cushions of the rare raindeer moss form a unique element of the forest floor.

Several previous publications have reports on the vascular flora for the Maricao Forest Reserve, as published by J.A Cedeño’s MS Thesis in 1997: The Department of Natural Resources reported a vascular flora of 845 species (278 reaching tree-size) , includes 123 species endemic to Puerto Rico and 20 endemic to Maricao.  Little and Wadsworth reported 285 species of trees.  In a report to the US Department of Agriculture, Woodbury listed 89 rare and endangered plant species as ocurring in the forest.  Proctor reported 131 pteridophytes and a subsequent study reported 166 species.  Ackerman reported 91 species of orchids occuring in the Maricao Forest. 

Part of the Maricao Forest Reserve, the vascular flora of the Río Maricao watershed consists of 582 species, 339 genera and 113 families.  That inventory is vouchered and mainly deposited at MAPR.

To view an incomplete checklist Click Here