Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ghost cedars.

Waking up to scenes like this, and with the dog days of winter almost upon us, I open my album of slides and take another trip back to Bermuda.

Today, the ghost cedars. Bermuda was settled in the early 1600s, and being a small place was very quickly changed quite dramatically. It didn't take long for most of the native flora to be removed one way or another, for one reason or another. In its place, the fast-growing, early successional Bermuda cedar, Juniperus bermudiana, became the dominant woody plant, the forest of Bermuda. Then, suddenly, in the 1940s, a tiny, leaf-sucking scale insect, Carulaspis minima, was accidentally introduced with ornamental junipers from California.

Instant ecological disaster. The native junipers lacked biochemical defences, and there were no native biological controls. Within a few years almost all of the cedars were lost, creating vast hillside ghost forests. It must have been a shockingly barren place for a while. Now, the islands are lush, but most of what grows there is not native, an exception being the flora of Nonsuch Island, Bermuda's "Living Museum." There, among the healthy new (old), re-established jungle of olivewood and plametto, the bleached ghosts of the dead cedar forest still stand, even now impervious to the strongest hurricanes, six decades after falling victim to an insect the size of a dew drop.

Dead for decades but still standing, a Bermuda cedar next to native palmetto on Nonsuch Island.


Yellow-crowned Night-heron on ghost cedar.

1 comment:

pookie said...

"Dead for decades but still standing" -- geez, that's my mother you're describing, more's the pity.