Manicaria — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Manicaria thrives in swamps or estuarine areas where river meets ocean. In the Tortuguero region of Costa Rica. where Manicaria saccifera is plentiful, local people know this palm as "Palma Real", or "Royal Palm". Its heavy, large leaves are valued over other palm species as the best material for roof thatching. Manicaria saccifera is an obligate swamp species, and as most other palms, it thrives in the wet, humid conditions of tropical lowland forests. Myers (1981) states "In the humid environments of the neo-tropics there is an increase in the abundance of understory palms" (24). Further to this, lowland forests generally have a higher density of palms than upland forests, and palms thrive better in poorly drained, wet soils than dry or well-drained soils. This particular palm can often be found mixed with Raphia palms in swamps and depressions.

Physical description [ edit ]

Germination stages

‘Manicaria saccifera is easy to identify by the enormous, broad leaves and clusters of spiked fruit pods visible at the base of the fronds. The leaves grow in a pinnate shape, and resemble large feathers with irregular separation and serrated edges. They are stiff, tough leaves, and can actually give a sharp “paper cut” if the hand is brushed against them.

The fruits grow in large clusters throughout the year, forming in shells that contain two or three seeds each. The pods fall from the tree and form mounds at the base. Eventually the spiked outer shell of the pod breaks away, revealing the smooth round seed underneath. Some mammals, such as peccaries. eat the white flesh found inside seeds that have fallen and emerged from the tough outer shell, but human consumption of this fruit is not common (Myers, 1981). Since the seeds can float for extended periods of time, water is the main seed distribution method for the Manicaria. Seed dispersal by animals is not effective; Myers (1981) found that seeds which were partially consumed or damaged by animals were not likely to germinate (See Fig. 1). Where mammal activity is high, seed and seedling predation are also very high, so the Manicaria tends to thrive only in swampy regions that are less frequented by mammals.

Climate and geographical location [ edit ]

Myers (1981) states that Manicaria saccifera is an obligate swamp species which grows in freshwater swamps that are frequently flooded by rain or ocean tides. They can often be located in estuarine areas where a river feeds into the ocean, so the rivers or canals along which Manicaria saccifera can be found often contain brackish water. This palm tends to dominate the middle strata with its broad leaves, and can often be found mixed with Raphia palm in depressions, bordering waterways, and in mixed dicotyledonous swamp forests (Myers, 1981). One important area of conservation where Manacaria continues to thrive is in the Tortuguero region on the northeast coast of Costa Rica. According to the Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation (COTERC) (n.d.), the Tortuguero region is an ancient flood plain with a rainfall exceeding 6,000 mm annually and an average daily temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. This area is aseasonal (Myers, 1981) and is considered among the most biologically diverse regions in the country (Koens, Dieperink and Miranda, 2009; World Headquarters, 2007). There are two protected areas that make up much of the Tortuguero region: The Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge and Tortuguero National Park. both which lie within the Área de Conservación Tortuguero (ACTO).

Lowland forests and palm swamps in Costa Rica

Density and local use of Manicaria saccifera in Tortuguero, Costa Rica [ edit ]

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