Hurricane Effects: Yagrumo
One of the biggest tests for any tree in El Yunque Forest is a hurricane. If a tree can survive a hurricane, it can survive anything. I am afraid my tree does not do so well in a hurricane. It cannot stand up against the strong winds and wet soil of a hurricane. This may be because it is such an eager-beaver grower, and its wood is not very dense. If a hurricane is bad, about half the yagrumos in the forest will topple or become uprooted. In other words, they will die. This is a sad fact and I hate to admit it, but it’s true. My sister’s trees, the tabonucos, do much better in a hurricane.
On the other hand, and this is a super-duper "other hand," almost as soon as the hurricane is over, something really cool happens. Patches of forest lose their plants and trees. Most of the forest loses its leaves. My father says that after a hurricane the forest looks like it went through a forest fire — all trunks and broken branches. Anyhow, the tiny yagrumo seeds soak up all this new sunlight on the forest floor. They start to grow. As the seedlings grow, they start taking up the nitrogen in the soil. The nitrogen comes from decomposing leaves and tree trunks. So we can say that yagrumos are resilient; they are able to recover quickly. Also, by hoarding up the nitrogen and other nutrients in the forest’s ecosystem, they help make sure the forest will recover quickly. Yagrumos do especially well in areas where the soil has been raised by uprooted trees. Scientists call this a tip-up mound. My father once showed me a circle of little yagrumo trees around a tip-up mound. Yagrumos start their pioneering work right away. They are responsible for getting the disturbed forest going again. And that’s great.