Tropical America Palm Ranch in Mexico

February 12, 2017

(*Watch the movie at the end of the article)

tropical america palm ranch

Bucerias, Mexico is north of Puerto Vallarta along Banderas Bay approximately 30 minutes if you travel coastal highway 200.  If you’re in the area, enjoying the beach, and the friendly Mexican culture, and you are looking for an adventure for a day in the beautiful countryside,  you might want to check out Tropical America Palm Ranch.  It is located between Mezcales Nayarit and Bucerias.  If you contact Carla Piringer at palmranchvolunteers@gmail.com, she will tell you how to get there, because Carla needs your help.  This Tropical America Palm Ranch is part of the Puerto Vallarta area gardens that can’t be missed.

If you love gardening and are willing to do some light volunteer work in a beautiful setting, this is the outing for you.  This is an opportunity of a life time.  You get to help the environment, meet new people, and learn new things, and it’s all for FREE!  Your day begins at Carla’s house in Bucerias, where she will transport you to the ranch, and you will be back before supper.  The free lunch and all the water you can drink, is delicious!

Tropical America is about 68 acres of beautiful palms from all over the world, and many other unique tropical plants, that will amaze you, are on display in this jungle ranch. The Ranch is owned and inhabited by Felix and his wife Adeline.  For the last 28 years, they have been planting palms from all over the world.  Every living creature, plant and animal, that lives on their property, is their baby.  They treat them with the utmost care and love.  Because this is such a unique place, and very comprehensive, when it comes the palm species, people from all over the world, who know and love palms, will be arriving in April 2017 for the first international palm conference in this area.  The International Palm Society’s Board of directors, has chosen this palm tree collection, as the destination for the 2017 meeting of their members.

Felix, Adeline, and their friend Carla, are very excited.

Let me tell you a little bit about the 500 varieties of palm that live on this ranch.  Before I begin, I should mention that the plants and trees in the shade of the jungle produce a very oxygen rich environment.  Kind of like the opposite of being in Mexico City.

Highlighting The Types Of Palm Trees You’ll See Here

The Lychee Tree

lychee tree

Felix planted many baby lychee trees approximately 15 meters apart years ago and now they are mature and about 50 feet tall and very wide.  This ornamental evergreen has dense dark green foliage, and the trees are touching each other.  It is a very shady location on the ranch and few people get to experience a lychee grove.  These trees are very tolerant and resistant to cold and frost.  The fruit is one of the most expensive, and it is delicious.  Felix had to put barbed wire around his property because thieves were trying to steal his lychees.  Felix does sell his lychees and made enough money from this fruit to buy a new car.

The Lychee tree has been around of thousands of years because of the rose coloured fruit, and the shade it provides.  The fruit hands in clusters and can be very heavy.  It is easy to reach so people didn’t have to climb the tree to get to the fruit.  As the branches grow, they twist in a counter-clockwise direction and become very strong.  Mother Nature is very smart. The fruit is sweet and goes well desserts or maybe a salad.  Its flesh is translucent and white.  It might remind you of a pear, grape, and coconut all in one yummy fruit.

The Cannonball Tree

canonball tree

If you happen to be in the southern Caribbean, northern South America, or maybe India, beware of the cannonball tree.  You wouldn’t want to be hit on the head with one of its fruit.  They look and weigh about the same as a real cannonball.  You might say that this a very religious tree, that is if you are a buddhist.  Buddha has been known to have slept under this tree.  When the fruit or cannonballs fall to the ground, they make an explosive sound.  The fruit smells awful as well, and the fruit seems to grow out of the trunk instead of from branches like other fruits. cannonball tree flower

The flower, however, is very large, very beautiful and very fragrant. Felix only has one tree that I know of.  Felix loves the story of his heavy heavy cannonballs and the showy display of the tree’s flowers.

The Parota Tree

parota tree

The Parota tree at the Palm Ranch is right beside the neighbour’s property along the fence line.  It is approximately 100 years old.  Felix is very proud of this tree.  It is always good luck to have a parota tree near by.   Bring your camera.  The parota tree is one of the largest trees in the dry forest area of Mexico and Central America.  The trunk and branches are massive.  The wood is super hard.  The crown forms a very large umbrella with tiny rice-sized leaves that blow in the wind during February and March, covering everything.  Look for the hand-sized green flat seed pods in the tree.  Local people, who live near a parota, describe the falling leaves as snow. They are common on Mexican and Central American pasture lands, where they provide shade for livestock.  It is a great place to cool down on a hot day.  You might find them scattered about coffee plantations, shading the plants. This tree has the ability to improve soil fertility through nitrogen fixation.  The plantation benefits yet again.

The Parota tree, a.k.a. Elephant ear, Carocaro, Devil’s ear, Guanacaste, and Earpod tree, is a member of the Leguminosae family.  One only needs to observe the fruit of this tree, to understand its comparison to ‘ears’.  The almost circular fruits are legumes, and frequently resemble an ear, hence its name.  These ear pods can grow from 3 to 6 inches in diameter, and turn glossy brown when ripe.

This tropical giant generally grows up to 30 meters high, with a trunk measuring 3.5 meters wide, but this fast growing baby has been known to grow to a towering 50 meters high.

Their expansive spherical crowns are covered with light, lacy. green leaves that emerge in the early rainy days of spring, and stay in full leaf for eight to nine months of the year. The tiny white flowers grow in small groups on short petioles, and only bloom after the tree has fully leafed out, usually in April/May.  The numerous tiny alternating bi-pinnate compound leaves are shed in the dry season when they appear to snow from the sky.

The Parota wood is reddish-brown, lightweight, and water-resistant and used extensively for furniture making.  The roots are massive and very strong, holding it in place during tropical storms.  If you plant one, keep it away from your buildings, roads and sidewalks.

Notice the termite nest in Felix’s parota tree.  They might live on the tree but they certainly don’t eat it.

Pallara Palm

Pallara Palm

This is a family of palms with a hairy trunk.  The one that Felix has on the Tropical America ranch is about 20 feet high and the trunk has the diameter of a adult person.  It is perfect for hugging.  Carla referred to it as the “grandfather” palm, maybe because it is so stable and mature.  Legend has it that if you are stressed and need some way to release your tension, hug a tree and scream as loud as you can.  The pallara would be the perfect tree to use for that.  The trunk has long hairs hanging down and is very thick.  As you hug it, if feels warm and comforting.

Facts To Remember About Palm Trees

  1. There are over 2,500 species found world wide from deserts to rainforests.
  2. Some palms tree are not palms such as the banana.
  3. The palm leaves are either palmate (hand shape) or pinnate (feather shape).
  4. Palms are mentioned in the Bible and the Quran.  They represent peace and plenty.
  5. Coconuts are a healthy palm fruit, but the oil from some palm tree is not good for your heart.
  6. Palm trees grow best in zones 8 to 10.

7.  The Quindio wax palm can grow to almost 200 feet.

8.  The cocode mer palm has the largest seed palms on Earth.

9.  Palm trees have been around forever and they symbolize positive things.

10. The Tropical America Palm Ranch in Bucerias Mexico is a place you must visit because of the palm varieties grown over the past 30 years by one man and one lady.

Beach Baby Bob and his wife Sue volunteered at the Palm Ranch on Feb. 10, 2017.  They took many pictures and videos of their experiences there and produced a movie for your pleasure.  Check it out here …

Susan Fox

About the Author

Susan Fox