My father told me to start by introducing the tree I like and telling why I like it. I like the yagrumo. It is a medium-sized tree that grows up to 70 feet high (21 m) and 2 feet (0.6 m) in diameter around the trunk. It is an evergreen, which means it always has leaves. It does not have a lot of leaves, but the leaves make up for their small number by their size. They are very large, thick, and shaped like an umbrella. They have 7 to 11 large lobes that can be up to 2 feet (0.6 m) in diameter.
The bottom of the leaf is white or silver. If you get caught in a downpour in the forest, they make great umbrellas. That’s one reason I like this tree!
An artisan who lives in town uses yagrumo as an inlay when he makes cuatros, which are local musical instruments similar to guitars.
My father tells me the wood is not durable. It is very susceptible to attack by dry-wood termites. That means you can use it mostly for things that do not last a long time, like matchsticks and crates. That’s OK because I wouldn’t want people to cut down the tree anyhow.
I read that this tree has a lot of names. I call it yagrumo because that is what the men who work in the forest call it. My father calls it Cecropia (Cecropia schreberiana) because he is a botanist. In some places they call it yagrumo hembra, to tell it apart from another local tree. In other places it is called the trumpet tree because it has hollow branches that you can use as a simple musical instrument.
It is also known as pop-a-gun (I guess because of the hollow branches), bois trompette (that’s French), and wild papaw (I don’t know why).
I do know that some people call it the weather vane tree. When the winds start to blow, meaning bad weather is coming, the leaves of the tree flip around, showing their white undersides. A tree with that many names has to be important!
I first noticed the yagrumo when a seedling started to grow outside my bedroom window. In just six months it was taller than me (I’m almost five feet). Now it is really tall, above our house. My father says some yagrumos can grow to 10 meters (around 30 feet) in two years. Cool, huh? I like fast stuff. The yagrumo is fast, an eager beaver, not a slowpoke like SOME trees in the forest.