Saturday, September 16, 2006

Is Chacala "Tropical"?

A view of the back wall of the Church in Chacala,
built by local people about six or seven years ago.

I know this photo isn't a garden photo. My excuse is that I love the Church, and it IS shaded by a large, lovely Huanacaxtle/Parota tree. And the local ladies keep the Church filled with flowers, especially on Thursdays, for Mass, and for othr special event days.

I just had an email correspondence with the woman, Linda Abbott Trapp, who wrote one of the books I have used alot to identify the plants around Chacala. Particularly the ones where I only know the local, Mexican name for the plant. It's not really a botanist's book, but she has at least three photos for each plant, so it pretty easy to identify plants from her photos.

If the book sounds good to you, it's called "Ornamental Plants and Flowers of Tropical Mexico" and is available to order from this site (
I think is $25US with shipping in the US.
Some of my plants, pushed together in preparation for Hurricane Lane
(Sept. 17, 2006. This section has been corrected)
I have been wondering about the use of the word "tropical" for the area around Chacala, and I checked it out. It looks like Chacala, is officially "tropical", below the 23rd Latitude north and above the 23rd Latitude south. That is, located within the area of the Earth between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Although "tropical" is used somewhat loosely in the gardening and decorating worlds today, this is the specific definition of "tropical" in terms of plants anyway.

I don't know exactly how you determine when a plant is considered "tropical", since of vast majority. The Fairchild Tropical Garden's "Tropical Gardening" has been my source books for much of the what I have been learning about gardening in tropical Chacala.

I know Chacala is officially "tropical", based on it's location, at 22 degrees north latitude. But there is another definition of tropical, based on the percentage of deciduous plants in the area. The fewer the deciduous trees and shrubs, the more the area is considered "tropical". Chacala has a large number of deciduous trees and shrubs. I think under 30% deciduous is the cut-off line for "tropical", but I'm can't remember for sure. And of course, many plants grow successfully in very different climates, from Vancouver to the Yucatan. So who knows what difference a label makes.

1 comment:

Deborah Midkiff said...

I hope you don't think I talk too much! I love that darling little church in your photo and the children you photograph. Your site has come to be a high-point of my day. Thank-you!