Originally these tropical dry forests stretched along the Pacific coast of Central America from southwest Mexico (southern Chiapes) through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua to northwestern Costa Rica, in a zone where there is a prolonged dry season, but today these forests are highly fragmented. In altitude they range from sea level to about 800 m and are usually low stature, semi-deciduous forests with no more than two vertical tree stories. Certain trees can, however, reach heights of up to 30 m. In southern sectors the common trees include Annona holosericea, Bursera simoruba, Casearia arguata, Eugenia salmensis, Guazuma ulmifolia, Jacquinia pungens, Tabebuia chrysantha and a variety of endemic and near endemic taxa such as Bombacopsis quinatum (Bombacaceae), Brosimum costaricensis (Moraceae), Dalbergia retusa (Fabaceae), Enterolobium cyclocarpum (Fabaceae) and Jacquinia macrocarpa (Theophrastaceae). Most of the trees belong to the Leguminosae superfamily of Fabaceae and many have associations with nitrogen fixing bacteria or have symbiotic relationships with various species of ant. The presence of Bombacopsis quinatum is of considerable biogeographical interest since it represents a family (Bombacaceae), which includes the baobabs of Africa and Australia. These are said to be descendents of Gondwanan ancestors and the presence of Bombacopsis quinatum in the Neotropics is quoted as evidence of continental drift. Bursera simoruba (naked indian) is of interest for its ability to photosynthesis through its shiny green bark. The under storey may include various shrubs such as the endemic Cupania guatemalensis (Sapindaceae), Machaerium biovulatum (Fabaceae) and Miconia argentea (Melastomataceae), clumps of palms (mainly species of Bactris) and occasional terrestrial bromeliads. Epiphytes are sparsely distributed and not conspicuous, but the crowns of trees are often lightly festooned with orchids, bromeliads, mosses, lichens, and there are occasional lianas.


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