A Visit to Cuba, 1999
view of Havana from Morro Castle
The palm book project led to Cuba. This relatively small country is home to a wonderfully diverse group of palms (and other plants and animals,) some of which are not seen anywhere else in the world. I received travel permission from the United States and made arrangements to visit the Jardin Botanico Nacional (the National Botanical Garden) in Havana. While there, I found a driver and visited natural areas from one end of the island to the other. I had a glimpse of the social difficulties of this country but was greatly impressed by the friendliness of the people I met and the natural beauty of the island. If relations between our countries ever warm sufficiently, I will go back.
National Botanical Garden of Cuba
At botanical garden meetings in the Caribbean, I had met Dr. Angela Leiva Sanchez, the director of the Jardin Botanico Nacional de Cuba (JBNC) and some of her staff and colleagues. After eating breakfast, I hailed a taxi and headed to the Garden to see her. I really did not know what to expect but was impressed by the huge size of the JBNC. It covers 1500 acres. Large plantings of the native palms were scattered over the rolling terrain. I was surprised to see large areas where the natural soil had been excavated and were filled with unusual soils from around the island. This allowed the JBNC to display plants that were very specific in their requirements and to represent interesting ecosystems from around the island. It is a remarkable garden. Below are some photos.
palms around the island
a valley of royal palms, Roystonea regia, near Matanzas
My focus of this travel was on the rare and beautiful palms of Cuba. Here are some of the palms I saw.
scenes around the island
beach near San Antonio del Sur with Sabal domingensis
Despite my focus on palms, I was not oblivious to the beauty of Cuba's countryside and communities. Here are some photos from around the island.