Exploring the Unique Flora of Palawan
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Palawan is home to 42,500 hectares of diverse and thriving mangrove forests, comprising 31 species and 90% of all known mangrove species in the Philippines. Palawan mangrove forests are a unique and important ecosystem that plays a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of the island. These forests are found along the coasts of Palawan and are composed of various mangrove species that have adapted to the brackish water and tidal fluctuations of the sea.
Mangrove forests are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals, many of which are endemic to Palawan. They are also important nurseries for various marine species, providing a safe haven for young fish, crustaceans, and other marine animals to grow and thrive.
Mangrove forests provide numerous benefits to the local communities and the environment. They serve as a natural buffer against storms, floods, and other natural disasters, as they help reduce the impacts of waves and floods by absorbing the energy of the waves and reducing their velocity.
Mangroves also play a significant role in carbon sequestration, as they are capable of storing large amounts of carbon in their biomass and soil. This makes them an important part of the global effort to combat climate change.
In Puerto Princesa, the City Government has been actively involved in conserving these precious resources by conducting annual mangrove planting events, known as the “Love Affair with Nature,” to sustain the mangrove populations and protect the local environment.
Palawan is home to a diverse range of orchid species, including some rare and unique varieties. The province boasts a high number of endemic orchids, meaning they are only found in Palawan and nowhere else in the world.
One of the most famous wild orchids in Palawan is the Pholidota Imbricata, also known as the “Palawan Pholidota”. This orchid is a stunning sight, with its bright purple petals and unique shape. It is commonly found attached to limestone rock crevices in the Miniloc Island in the municipality of El Nido.
In addition to the Palawan Pholidota, there are many other orchids that can be found in Palawan’s rainforests, such as the Dendrobium anosmum, which has fragrant flowers and is often used in traditional medicine. The Paphiopedilum sanderianum, also known as the “Lady Slipper Orchid”, can be found growing in the forests of Palawan, and its striking flowers are highly sought after by collectors.
However, like many other wild plants, orchids in Palawan are threatened by habitat loss, over-collection, and illegal trade.
Nepenthes Palawanensis is a stunning tropical pitcher plant that is endemic to the beautiful island of Palawan in the Philippines. It is predominantly found in the Sultan Peak at elevations of 1,100 to 1,236 meters above sea level, although it may also be found on the islands in El Nido.
This unique species is closely related to N. Attenboroughii, which is found on a nearby mountain called Mount Victoria. However, Nepenthes Palawanensis distinguishes itself from its relative through its remarkably larger pitchers, which can sometimes exceed 35 centimeters in height and hold up to 1.5 to 2 liters of water.
Other pitcher plant species found in Palawan include the Nepenthes Mantalingajanensis, Nepenthes Ultra, and Nepenthes Mira. These species can be found in remote and often difficult to access mountain regions of Palawan.
Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants that have enzymes to break down animal protein, such as those found in insects. This adaptation allows the plant to survive in areas with nutrient-poor soils. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction and overcollection, this species is considered critically endangered. Its conservation status highlights the importance of preserving and protecting the unique and diverse flora found in Palawan.
Palawan is home to various species of trees, some of which are endemic to the island.
One of the most well-known trees in Palawan is the Narra (Pterocarpus indicus). This large hardwood tree is the national tree of the Philippines and is known for its durable wood, which is commonly used for furniture and construction. The Narra tree is also valued for its ornamental purposes and is often planted in parks and gardens.
Another notable tree in Palawan is the Palawan Cherry (Syzygium palawanense). This evergreen tree is endemic to Palawan and is known for its small, edible fruits. The Palawan Cherry tree can grow up to 20 meters tall and has a smooth, grayish bark.
The Almaciga tree (Agathis philippinensis) is also found in Palawan. This coniferous evergreen tree is known for its resin, which is used in varnish, incense, and other products. The Almaciga tree can grow up to 65 meters tall and is commonly used as an enrichment crop in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Another tree that can be found in Palawan is the Bungang-ipot (Areca ipot Becc). This small, stocky tree is part of the palm family and has dark green leaves that can grow up to 1.5 meters in length. The Bungang-ipot tree is known for its deep orange fruit, which has a flattened base and rounded top. The nuts of this tree are commonly used for betel-chewing.
Finally, the Kabantigi or Pemphis Acidula is another notable tree in Palawan. This small tree or shrub is known for its twisted shape and heavy wood, which is prized by wood carvers. The Kabantigi tree is often trained as a bonsai tree and is found along coastal rock areas, gravel, and sand.
These are just a few of the many tree species that can be found in Palawan, highlighting the rich biodiversity of this island.