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Trees

As you may have guessed, the huge swaths of rainforests and cloud forests found in Honduras hold an awesome array of trees. Indigenous groups throughout the country still can identify trees and their medicinal uses, though with the quickening encroachment of western civilization, that knowledge is slowly fading away. Don't be afraid to learn the names of trees. Love them. Be a tree hugger and be proud of it.

Ceiba -- (Ceiba pentandra) Also known as the kapok tree, ceiba trees are typically emergent (their large umbrella-shape canopies emerge above the forest canopy), making the species among the tallest trees in the tropical forest. Reaching as high as 60m (197 ft.), their thick columnar trunks often have large buttresses. Ceiba trees may flower as little as once every 5 years, especially in wetter forests. Prime Viewing: See them throughout the country.

Guanacaste -- (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) The guanacaste tree is one of the largest trees found in Central America. It can reach a total elevation of over 39m (128 ft.); its straight trunk composes 9 to 12m (30-39 ft.) of the height (the trunk's diameter measures more than 1.8m/6 ft.). Prime Viewing: See them throughout the country.

Strangler Fig -- (Ficus aurea) This parasitic tree gets its name from the fact that it envelops and eventually strangles its host tree. The matapalo, or strangler fig, begins as an epiphyte, whose seeds are deposited high in a tree's canopy by bats, birds, or monkeys. The young strangler then sends long roots down to the earth. The sap is used to relieve burns. Prime Viewing: They are found in primary and secondary forests countrywide.

Cecropia -- (Cecropia obtusifolia) Several cecropia (trumpet tree) species are found in Honduras. Large, hand-like clusters of broad leaves, and a hollow, bamboo-like trunk characterize most. They are "gap specialists," fast-growing opportunists that can fill in a gap caused by a tree fall or landslide. Their trunks are usually home to Aztec ants. Prime Viewing: See them in primary and secondary forests, rivers, and roadsides countrywide.

Gumbo Limbo -- (Bursera simaruba) Called the indio desnudo in Honduras. The bark of the gumbo limbo is its most distinguishing feature: A paper-thin red outer layer, when peeled off the tree, reveals a bright green bark. Both names refer to reddish skin. The bark is used as a remedy for gum disease; gumbo limbo-bark tea allegedly alleviates hypertension. Another remarkable property is the tree's ability to root from its cut branches, which, when planted right end-up, develop roots and leaves, forming a new tree within a few years. Prime Viewing: You can see them in primary and secondary forests countrywide.

Flowers & Other Plants

Honduras has an amazing wealth of tropical flora in its 5,000 hectares (12,355 acres) of forest cover, which includes more than 10,000 vascular plants and 600 or so species of orchids. The 36 protected cloud forests here blossom with a web of bromeliads, mosses, vines, and ferns, as well as vast tracts of pine forests, low-lying primary and secondary tropical forests, dry forests, savannahs, wetlands, and dozens of other categories only a hardcore plant nerd could identify.

Guaria Morada -- (Cattleya skinneri) Showing off a purple-and-white flower, this plant is also called the "Easter orchid," as it tends to flower between March and April each year. Prime Viewing: You can see them throughout the country from sea level to 1,220m (4,003 ft.).

Heliconia -- (Heliconia collinsiana) There are more than 250 species of tropical heliconia, several dozen of which are found in Honduras. The flowers of this species are darkish pink in color, and the underside of its large leaves is coated in white wax. Prime Viewing: See them in low to middle elevations countrywide, particularly in moist environments.

Hotlips -- (Psychotria poeppigiana) Related to coffee, hotlips is a forest flower that has thick red "lips" that resemble the Rolling Stones logo. The small white flowers (found inside the red lips) attract a variety of butterflies and hummingbirds. Prime Viewing: You'll find them in the undergrowth of dense forests.

Red Torch Ginger -- (Nicolaia elatior) The tall red torch ginger plant has an impressive bulbous red bract, often mistaken for the flower. The numerous, small white flowers actually emerge out of this bract. Originally a native to Indonesia, it is now quite common in Honduras. Prime Viewing: The best places to see them are in moist environments and gardens.

Poor Man's Umbrella -- (Gunnera insignis) The poor man's umbrella, a broad-leaved rainforest ground plant, is a member of the rhubarb family. The massive leaves are often used, as the colloquial name suggests, for protection during rainstorms. Prime Viewing: They are found throughout the country, in low- to middle-elevation moist forests.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.