Storms have silver lining
A large crop of one of the “worst invasive species” of plant in Bermuda has been destroyed by last month’s storms.
Abundant rain this year had meant there would be a hefty seed crop of Brazil pepper next year, but this has now been wiped out by wind and salt — a “silver lining” of Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gonzalo, according to the Department of Conservation Services.
The weaker storm “winnowed out a lot of the weaker trees and opened up canopies”, which contributed to less tree damage than expected during Gonzalo. Bermuda’s large trees, which “play a vital role in providing shade, shelter and habitat” take the full brunt of major storms.
The bigger trees to suffer most during the recent storms were those with “large sails of branches and leaf canopy”, such as fiddlewood, pride of India, Brazil pepper, casuarina, Indian laurel, Norfolk pine, royal poinciana, black ebony, and white cedar, which is no relation to Bermuda cedar.
Endemic trees “fared quite well”, Conservation Services said, “although we did seem lose a number of Bermuda cedars, bay grapes as well as the introduced coconut palms, which is unusual”.
The department added: “This is perhaps best explained by saturated soil and the back-to-back storms with their winds coming from different directions, which loosened their root systems.
The endemic Bermuda palmetto and buttonwood seemed to have survived very well, as did the olivewood bark.”
As residents begin replanting trees and plants, Conservation Services advises thinking about the size a species can grow to and to plant away from buildings and utility poles.
“Where not possible to plant large trees, the alternative is to replant with tree species that, when fully grown, could be considered medium-sized,” the department said. “In addition to Bermuda’s endemic palmetto, cedar and olivewood bark, some good medium-sized ornamental trees that could be considered are frangipani, golden shower, scarlet cordia, jacaranda, mahoe, European olive and orchid tree.
“The local plant nurseries are a good source of advice in picking the right species for the situation.”
Residents were giving a helping hand to restore the Island’s damaged landscape by Clarien Bank, which offered a free native and endemic plant to members of the community on Thursday.
Two hundred Bermuda cedar, palmetto and olivewood saplings were given away within 40 minutes.
For more information about plants and the Department of Conservation Services, visit www.conservation.bm.
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