Monarchs of Michoacan with Denver Botanic Gardens – Day 6

Guest blogger: Sarada Krishnan, Director of Horticulture at Denver Botanic Gardens

Mexican Journal: Day 6 – Eduardo Ruiz National Park, Uruapan

Entrance to Eduardo Ruiz National Park in Uruapan, Mexico.

As we wind down this trip, our last visit before we leave Uruapan is the Eduardo Ruiz National Park. This natural park is built around the river Cupatitzio which leads to a couple of waterfalls. The entire park is surrounded by many manmade water features along with the naturally flowing water as well as rich plant life characteristic of this mountain region. The damage caused by the recent heavy rainfall is evident in the form of fallen trees, broken branches and tattered leaves. Coffea arabica (coffee) plants line the sides of pathways and are in fruit ripening stage. We also encounter a large specimen of strangler fig (Ficus sp.). A fruit stand within the park offers a couple of varieties of mangoes and the smaller variety that I purchased is very tasty.

Fruit stand at Eduardo Ruiz National Park.
Strangler fig in Eduardo Ruiz National Park.

Mexico is ranked third in biological diversity owing to a diverse biogeographic history with varied climates. Mexico is home to approximately 30,000 plant species. The flowering plants account for about 2,500 genera of which 50-60% of the species are endemic to Mexico. Fauna-wise Mexico has 1,000 bird species and 449 mammalian species of which 142 are endemic. The vast numbers of insect species include 25,000 Lepidopterans (butterflies and moths). Many agricultural crops also have their origins in Mexico.

After lunch we head back to Morelia from where we return home to Denver the next day. As I look back at this entire trip, I feel very fortunate to have had this culturally rich experience. Many folks contributed to the success of this trip. Thanks to Sheridan Samano of Reefs to Rockies for putting together an incredible itinerary and coordinating all the logistics with the local ground operator. This trip would not have been successful without the hard work of our local guide Eduardo Gonzalez. His knowledge, patience, driving skills, professionalism and capability to stay calm when Mother Nature caused a hitch in our itinerary were remarkable. Lastly, the entire group contributed to the success of this trip. Not a single person complained when the itinerary had to be changed and instead of visiting two monarch butterfly sanctuaries as originally planned, we had to cut short to only one. By the end of this trip each of us had formed new friendships, which is bound to continue for a long time. Thanks, everyone!

Group at Sierra Chincua Monarch Sanctuary earlier in the trip.