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Tulum Vegetation
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Tulum, México - Tulum Vegetation Map

A green jungle sitting upon a limestone shelf along side a turquoise Caribbean Sea... underground fresh mineral waters rivers flowing through caves of stalactites, stalagmites and root balls. Water and rain, or lack thereof, have an enormous impact on the type of vegetation found in the Tulum area.

Beach areas, known as Coastal Dune Scrub, are unique because of their high wind, daytime temperatures and salty air. Herbs, bushes, palms and a few hearty trees grow in the sand. You can find Ocean Grapes (Cocoloba uvifera), Agave angustifolia (sorry, not the type of Agave for making tequila) and Bravisia tubiflora. Only interrupted by mangroves and solid rock cliff areas, coastal dune vegetation is endangered by general human growth and pollution of coastal waters.

Mangroves are illegal to destroy in Mexico because of their valuable role within the natural ecosystem. Mangroves supply the nutrients for the Caribbean reef, the world´s second largest reef. Thick and marshy, these swamps act as a filtration system for the Yucatan´s underground river system.

Without question, the most important type of vegetation located near Tulum is Peten, literally one of the world´s natural breeding grounds. Found throughout Sian Ka'an Bioreserve, the name "Peten" signifies various communities of vegetation. A Peten is a natural island of mangroves, bushes and large trees which surround a fresh water cenote (a cenote is a sinkhole where the underground freshwater comes to the surface). Here is where fresh water islands of growth are surrounded by salt water ocean inlets.

A little bit inland you´ll find Low Jungle Caducifolia (trees which lose their leaves) including chechen (Metopium brownei), chaka (Bursera simaruba), Ramon (Brosinum alicastrum) and Zapote (Manilkana zapota, which is known for it´s chicle, the natural gum used for chewing gum). Here you´ll also find Orchids, Bromeliads and a wide array of flowering plants.

Deeper inland in areas such as Coba, you´ll find Medium Jungle Subperennifolia which includes trees up to 35 meters in height. The dominating species include Manilkara sapota, Vitex gaumeri, Lysiloma latisiliquum and Brosimun alicastrum. This type of jungle is the most extensive in the Yucatan peninsula.

Savanna is a type of vegetation characterized by grassy herbs and ciperaceas with some sporadic trees. Savannas are generally located in submerged areas in relationship with hot humid environments. Trees found in this area include Jicaros (Crescentia cujete), American Curatella and Nance (Byrsonima crasifolia).