Myrica faya in its Native Habitats

Efforts at classical biocontrol for M. faya were begun in the mid 1950s, and have continued sporadically, with exploratory excursions by entomologists from Hawai‘i to its native habitats: the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands in the North Atlantic.  More recently, plant pathologists, including myself, have made similar excursions to these regions in search of plant pathogens as possible biocontrol agents.

Myrica faya in botanical garden.jpg (204654 bytes)  Myrica faya in a botanical garden on the island of Sao Miguel, the Azores.

Myrica faya in Azores.jpg (321378 bytes)   Myrica faya in Azores 1.jpg (215342 bytes)    M. faya (dark vegetation) growing on a hillside (left) and on a seacliff (right) on the island of Faial, Azores.  The specific name faya is thought to have been derived from the name of this island.                                 

Myrica faya in Azores 2.jpg (357244 bytes)   Young, vigorous M. faya growing as an understory in a plantation of introduced pines, island of Faial.

Myrica faya in Azores 5.jpg (277129 bytes)   As demonstrated in Hawai‘i, M. faya has the ability to colonize recent lava.  Like Hawai‘i, the Azores are of volcanic origin, and volcanism is ongoing in both archipelagoes.  A dense stand of M. faya is shown here colonizing a recent lava flow (dark vegetation) on Faial.

Myrica faya in Azores 3.jpg (185312 bytes)   In its native habitat, shown here on the island of Pico, M. faya may grow in dense, mixed forest stands of native trees, collectively termed "laurosilva".  In such associations, trees are straight and spindly, producing branches and foliage only at the top of the canopy.

Myrica faya in Azores 4.jpg (308657 bytes)   M. faya frequently is found as a re-invader of old pastureland, where it occurs in open stands, as shown here on upper slopes of the island of Pico.

large m. faya in canaries.jpg (240143 bytes)   Whereas most of the trees of M. faya observed in its native habitats were small to midsized, we occasionally found rather large individuals.  The tree shown here, on the island of Gomera in the Canary Islands, was perhaps the largest found.

Myrica faya in Azores 6.jpg (280880 bytes)   Myrica faya in Azores 8.jpg (255158 bytes)   Myrica faya in Azores 9.jpg (269161 bytes)  The lands of lower elevations of the Azores are heavily utilized for agriculture, although much of the land is rocky.   Rocks are often gathered and used to form barriers between small fields, or vinyards, such as shown on the island of Pico (left).  We found M. faya frequently invading such areas, both under active cultivation and abandoned.  Islands of Faial (middle), and Sao Miguel (right).

Myrica faya in Azores 7.jpg (217798 bytes)   The island of Pico from Faial.



Myrica faya in Madeira.jpg (261842 bytes)   Myrica faya in Madeira 1.jpg (162638 bytes)   Myrica faya in Madeira 2.jpg (215913 bytes)   Myrica faya in Madeira 3.jpg (231456 bytes)   Myrica faya in Madeira 4.jpg (292180 bytes)   Myrica faya in Madeira 5.jpg (292568 bytes)   Myrica faya in Madeira 6.JPG (223886 bytes)    The island of Madeira, south of the Azores, is mountainous and rugged.  The mountainsides are cultivated, often through the use of a well-developed system of terraces, where small crops, particularly potatoes, are grown.  M. faya occurs throughout the native forests, and in forest remnants.  It is found in and around the agricultural terraces and in other sites not actively cleared for cultivation.


The Canary Islands:

 canaries 2.jpg (161488 bytes)  canaries 1.jpg (320998 bytes)  canaries 3.jpg (153864 bytes)  canaries 4.jpg (133784 bytes)   The Canary Islands are situated off the western coast of Africa, and are the southern-most archipelago upon which M. faya occurs naturally.  The climate of the Canaries is warmer and drier than that of the Azores or Madeira.  An abundance of M. faya was found in the Canaries, particularly in those regions, such as on the island of Gomera, where the native vegetation had not been severely displaced by agriculture or development.  Because of the mountainous terrain, an elaborate system of terracing has been developed for agriculture, as it has in Madeira.