Monday, November 28, 2011

The Secretive Cliff

The view from the top of ravine
The hidden cycads
Cycads on cliff slope
In terms of number of species, the richest spot we have gone to in our Ilocos trip is far off the main highway. It was almost at the end of the world as we went off the usual tourist route and headed for rougher country.  It was another half hour till we stopped as the bus could not anymore go on the narrowing path. We got off and continued on foot till we reached the edge of a ravine. The beach is still a few meters down and we had to go down a flight of stairs into the mixed rock and sand coast.  The waves pounds strong on the craggy surface.

Probably Cycas nitida
The beach was not our purpose.  It was the cliff line looming a few meters above sea level. The cliff wall is separated from the coast by a vertical plane of sharp limestone. Above the difficult barrier, is a patch of intriguing dwarfed vegetation. The small trees are secretive, hiding specimens of fruiting cycad and much more.

There were probably a lot of the cycad. It is hard to count as they were tucked under the gnarling branches and thick canopy of the trees. The cycad looks different from other coastal species like pitogo (Cycas edentata). The individual plants appear to be smaller in size compared to C. edentata. Plus, as pointed out by Mr. George Yao, the fruit stalk had serrated edges (C. edentata has cleaner fruit stalk edges). The species is probably C. nitida which was previously recorded collected from the area.

An Apocynaceae member
Probably an Aglaia
But the cycad was not the only hidden treasure hidden in the brushes.  The coastal greens hideaway different trees from taxonomic families like Apocynaceae, Annonaceae, Sapindaceae, Myrtaceae, Bignoniaceae, Combretaceae, Pandanaceae, Dracaenaceae, and a lot more. Never under-estimate what nature could hide away from man's destructive reach. Hope they stay hidden as long as possible.