The faya never fails (1)

14 August 2014
Comments: 0
14 August 2014, Comments: 0

We’re getting a head of steam up: the tree-planting season is just round the corner and we want to whet your appetite with these living creatures that we are going to bury in the earth so that they can create lots of positive footprint.
This year we will be planting lots of fayas, a tree that also goes by the name Myrica faya. The area we will be planting is a couple of hundred metres below where we were in 2013, so we’ll be moving away from terrain dominated by forests of Canary Island Pine, to a region where laurel is more in command. As the faya is the species we are going to use most during the repopulation of these areas, we thought you might like to know why.

A healing tree
The faya is a very special tree; it is one of the species that help heal a forest after it has suffered any type of damage resulting in gaps appearing among the tree canopy. It is able to thrive under open skies and it isn’t at all bothered by an abundance of light. It can propagate itself through its seeds, which can travel far and wide when birds such as the blackbird, the first cousin of our own mirlo capiblanco or ring ouzel, eat them.

Faya fruit, also known locally as “creces”. These are edible and the guanches used to use them to produce a type of “gofio”.

Faya fruit, also known locally as “creces”. These are edible and the guanches used to use them to produce a type of “gofio”.

Another way the faya manages to colonise damaged areas is through seeds that have already been scattered on the ground, thanks to the presence of a father tree that has been leaving his offspring in the area for years and years.

Finally, the faya has a spectacular capacity that lets it produce new shoots from its own trunk or stump, creating “suckers” that form a kind of cage around the main trunk. This also allows it to increase its lifespan and to produce new shoots when the main trunk disappears because of heavy winds, for example.

New shoots from the stump of a faya, or “suckers”, in the form of a cage.

New shoots from the stump of a faya, or “suckers”, in the form of a cage.

A veritable nitrogen factory with lots of positive footprint

Another unique characteristic of the faya are the bacterial nodules that develop in its roots. This is in fact a symbiosis between this tree and bacteria of the Rhizobium genus that allows the faya to capture nitrogen from the air, to use it as sustenance, and to gradually improve the quality of the surrounding soil.

This positive footprint relationship between the two species — the faya and the bacteria — is vital for laurel forests. As you may be aware, nitrogen is one of the least common soil nutrients, and so the fact that there are species that can capture it from the atmosphere means that other species can then benefit from it.

Mother Nature is full of examples of positive footprints!

Bacterial nodules used by the faya to produce nitrogen for itself and for the rest of the laurel forest.

Bacterial nodules used by the faya to produce nitrogen for itself and for the rest of the laurel forest.

A broad treetop to protect the soil

Another interesting characteristic of the faya as a tree that is ideal for replanting purposes is its capacity to grow a broad crown even when it is still very young. This means that every individual tree covers a considerable area of the surrounding land. This is very important because as well as reducing the risk of erosion, it stops too much brushwood from growing, brushwood that would compete from an early age with the little trees we are using to restore the forest.

As you see, the faya is a spectacular tree for restoring laurel forests and that is why we are using it in to repopulate and restore these forests. We still have some more details to pass on to you, but we will leave them to next week.

 

Photo sources:

Fruit: www.rinconcitocanario.com

Bacterial Nodules: http://www.biodiversidadvirtual.org

Faya “suckers”: http://senderoscanarios.blogspot.com.es

 

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