Tree Autecology and Biology
Tropical Forest Ecology
Mountains of Jamaica
are covered by large areas of forest that contain a high number of
endemic species. On much of the lower slopes forest cover was removed
over time to
make place for agriculture, including coffee plantations. Natural
forests remain on the upper slopes and are mainly found on very steep
However, these forests are threatened by the spread of introduced
species planted in the Cinchona botanic garden soon after its
inception. The tree Pittosporum
undulatum is currently the most troublesome species and
survival the many endemic taxa.
Other species that have extensively spread from various gardens include:
- Angiopteris evecta: this
fern bearing enormous fronds is found in a number places in undisturbed
- Aristea gerrardii: an iris
common along open paths and in grasslands.
- Cuphea ignea: ubiquitous
shrub along the path leading to Blue Mountain Peak.
- Hedychium spp: first
recorded as weedy around Cinchona in the 1910s and now spreading into
- Melinis minutiflora: a
South African grass introduced in 1925 that is troublesome in coffee
plantations and vegetable plots.
- Polygonum chinense:
scrambling shrubby herb forming monotypic stands in disturbed areas,
landslides. Found here and there in the natural forest. A major weed of
Along most roads and tracks there is a rich complement of
species and these are mainly forbs.
A rated list of invasive plants in the West Blue Mountains can be found
in the review by Goodland & Healey (1996).
Heavily invaded forest. With the exception
of the odd large tree and a limited amount of juveniles all stems
belong to Pittosporum undulatum.
Note the fallen-down trees in the foreground that readily survive and
thrive, and the general scarcity of the shrub layer.
The shrub layer of un-invaded forest is extremely variable in density
due to varying levels of canopy cover. However, even under the densest
canopies there is a variety of native species and ferns in particular.
Since the late 19th century the
Blue Mountains have
been the focus of much scientific research. In recent decades the
ecology of the forest and the impact of introduced species, and Pittosporum undulatum in
particular, have been extensively studied by teams from Cambridge and
A bibliography of the
main scientific publications relating to the Blue
Mountains has been produced.
A number of document relating to
to the ecology of the
Blue Mountains can be downloaded:
- A potted history of the Cinchona Botanic Garden.
- Manual control of Pittosporum undulatum in lightly
- An ecological bibliography
of the Blue Mountains.
The endemic crested quail dove commonly encountered
along forest paths.
- Binggeli, P. & Goodland, T. (1998) Pittosporum
undulatum Vent. (Pittosporaceae).
Chai, S. (2004) Pittosporum invasion
of the Blue Mountains.
- Goodland, T. & Healey, J.R. (1996) The invasion
of Jamaican rainforests by the Australian tree Pittosporum undulatum.
University of Wales, Bangor.
- Goodland, T. & Healey, J.R. (1997) The effect
undulatum on the native vegetation of the Blue Mountains of
Jamaica. University of Wales, Bangor.
- Goodland, T. & Healey, J.R. (1996) The control
the Australian tree Pittosporum undulatum in the Blue Mountains
of Jamaica. University of Wales, Bangor.
epiphytic species abound
this orchid. Trunks of fallen
down, but live, trees are particularly favourable micro-habitats.