[Tweeters] Vegetation of Oaxaca and Washington

David Hutchinson flora.fauna at live.com
Sun Oct 20 15:12:22 PDT 2013

Mark Egger, that rare combination of excellent botanist and birder recently made a post regarding fruiting trees and Madrona which can occur all the way down into the tropical latitudes of Mexico, although at some altitude, as he says, in the pine-oak belt. To me it was particularly interesting, having just stepped off the plane in Oaxaca, where there is no lack of fruiting trees.

While there may be several species involved, the most widespread madrona here is Arbutus xalapensis, which can occur at least up to 9500 ft. What really surprises though is that at these higher elevations, one can feel quite at home. Along with the Madrona also occur Douglas Fir, Bracken Fern, a white-flowering Elderberry, looking so like Sambucus racemosa, plus familiar looking species of manzanita, salvia, lobelia and paintbrush. To compound this effect, many of our western warblers are here, along with Hutton's Vireo, with Ruby-crowned Kinglet perhaps being the most common bird species.

To compound matters further, on large evergreen oaks grow giant air plants like Tillandsia prodigiosa and I saw a Douglas Fir with a native Tomato vine growing up the main trunk. The commonest breeding warblers are Red, and Olive. Interestingly, Varied Thrush has perhaps its closest relative, Aztec Thrush occurring in these zones

Hummingbirds are widespread, with Ruby-throated being most common. The favourite flower seems to that of Ipomoea murucoides, which the locals call "cazahuate", but if one slipped and called it "Morning Glory Tree" that would be right on track. Another choice plant for them is the small parasitic shrub Psittacanthus calyculatus, which sits in the crown of shrubs, as a mistletoe would. It has grey-green leaves like a Manzanita and a big bundle of stunning blood red tubular flowers much like an Erythrina.

Meanwhile it is pouring with rain, not so good for birding, but great for fruit and flowers. Several pairs of Aztec Parakeets are starting to nest on the next street.

Dave Hutchinson
Casa Adobe
Matamoros/Independenci esq.,
Tlalixtac de Cabrera, Oaxaca

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