A dendrochronological study of teak (Tectona grandis L. f., Verbenaceae) in Puerto Rico
In Puerto Rico, an island in the West Indies, large areas of primary forest have been cut and converted to farmland or to secondary forest; subsequently the farmlands declined in fertility and were abandoned. Various tree species were planted in order to restore the degraded land and to provide timber. Teak is a species with great restoration potential in Puerto Rico especially for low altitude areas with deep, well drained soils, and in the past 50 years, teak plantations have been established in such areas. Teak was planted in the subtropical wet forest at Rio Abajo in central Puerto Rico in the 1940s and 1960s and at Sabana during the 1960s. We conducted a dendrochronological study of the species at Rio Abajo and at Sabana in order to investigate patterns of growth and to determine the effect of climate on the growth of teak. We compared the growth of teak and that of mahoe (Hibiscus elatus Sw. (Malvaceae)), a tree species used in the manufacture of fine furniture, native to Cuba and Jamaica, which had also been planted at Rio Abajo. The best predictors of growth of teak at Rio Abajo are July and November temperatures. The tree ring chronology shows decreased growth during several hurricane years, followed by increased growth the following year. Both species are growing well, but teak growth is better than that of mahoe, a native species of nearby islands, suggesting that it is a good choice for these and similar areas in the subtropical wet forest life zone of Puerto Rico.