Sunday, January 22, 2012

Flora of Costa Rica

I have been very bad about blogging lately, and part of my excuse is that I recently went on vacation to the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. (This, by the way, is a great way to beat the winter blahs; I highly recommend it.)

Guanacaste is in the northwestern portion of Costa Rica, along the Pacific Ocean. It's an arid environment--not the rainforest ecosystem found in the central and eastern parts of the country. If you look at the mountain in this photo, you'll see how, especially now in the dry season, this region resembles a more savanna- or even desert-type landscape.

But at the resort where we stayed, I found lush, manicured landscapes.

I honestly couldn't tell what a lot of these plants were, but cannas and palm trees were everywhere, as was a green, well-groomed lawn.

You can see the contrast between the indigenous (mountain) landscape the "gardened" landscape in the foreground. As someone who cultivates plants native to my corner of the world, this was a little disconcerting.

But I have to admit I enjoyed being surrounded by vibrant, colorful, and yes, non-native landscaping. And it was just plain fun to see plants that grow as annuals in Illinois to be flourishing happily outdoors in January!

We also had a chance to see the "transitional" forest at a nearby volcano, where it wasn't a full-on rainforest but it was wetter than the coastal area. It was wonderful to experience different landscapes, and the variety of birds and butterflies was astounding.

If you have the chance, I recommend you see this beautiful country. I would love to see the rainforest areas, but don't overlook the more arid Pacific side!

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