Palmas Del Mar, a resort community on the East end of Puerto Rico has a hidden gem: the Pterocarpus Forest. The forest is named for the Pterocarpus tree (Pterocarpus officinalis), which is native to Puerto Rico and sometimes called the Dragonsblood tree. Locals call it the palo de pollo or Bloodwood tree due to the red color of the sap and the way the decomposing leaves can turn surrounding water red. The tree can grow very large, with buttressing roots growing out from the trunk along the ground. These spreading roots can grow very large, and act to anchor the tree without growing very deeply.
About the Pterocarpus Forest
The Pterocarpus Forest in Palmas Del Mar is a wetland—or swamp—is 51.67 cuerdas (a Spanish acre, close to an acre in size). This wetland is constantly changing with the flow of brackish water into the forest from tides, rain and runoff. Is serves as habitat to 44 species of flora (plants) and 52 species of fauna (animal life), many of which are exclusive only to this forest.
Wetlands like the Pterocarpus Forest are vital to the area, and are a unique ecosystem, regulating flood water, and serving as a breeding ground for fish and wildlife. The root systems trap sediments and the trees improve air quality.
A recent addition to the forest is a 500 foot raised walkway that takes you into the heart of the swamp. Placards along the walkway point out the forest inhabitants including insects, birds and plant life. There are even benches and picnic tables along the way to stop and enjoy the cool are and listen to the chirping birds. Future plans for the forest include a lookout tower and an event pavilion near the lake at the entry to the forest walkway.
Check the Palmas Del Mar Homeowners Association for events which can include concerts, plein air painting and educational outings.
You can get involved with a donation to the Pterocarpus Forest. Send your contribution check to:
PHA Forest Fund
PO Box 9027
Humacao, PR 00792
You may also donate by credit card by calling 787-285-6425
Cost: Visits to the Pterocarpus Forest are free.
Directions to Pterocarpus Forest
Follow GPS directions into the Palmas Del Mar Country Club gate. Continue along Palmas Drive until you reach the circle. Turn left at the circle onto Country Club Drive. At the second circle, turn right onto Nursery Road. The entrance to the forest is just after the Church.