Take a Stroll through Parque Doña Inés

Located near the Luis Muñoz Marín Foundation in San Juan, the Parque Inés María Mendoza Rivera de Muñoz Marín, more frequently referred to as Parque Doña Inés, is an ecological project to create an arboretum – a collection of trees from different parts of the world. Initially the park will cover twelve-acres of land, with the possibility of this area being extended. Named in honor of the wife of political leader Luis Muñoz Marín, the park aims to preserve a place of natural beauty for all people to enjoy, while offering the opportunity to learn about Puerto Rico’s indigenous trees, as well as about remarkable trees from other countries.

The park is beautifully landscaped into several sections, including the Palm Belt, Cathedral Ceiba, Forest Borinquen, Caribbean Forest, Primordial Forest, Karst Region, Riparian Forest, and Trees of Puerto Rico. In the interests of preserving the park’s natural treasures, some of which are very rare and therefore valuable, the park has perimeter fencing and visitors can gain access through the entrance. There is a network of trails for visitors to stroll along, and trails and trees are clearly labeled to add an interesting educational aspect to the pleasure of being in this spectacular environment.

Among the trees in the Parque Doña Inés is the indigenous Moralón, or Leather-Coat tree (Coccoloba pubescens), also sometimes referred to as “Eve’s Umbrella”. This tree grows up to 24 meters tall, with a sparsely branched crown and leaves that vary in both size and color, from bright to pale green and with yellow to orange veins. It gets green-tinged white flowers on erect spines and a fruit up to 2 cm in diameter. It grows naturally in the central and western parts of the island.

Known locally as Bulletwood, the Ausubo (Manilkara bidentata) is one of the most important hardwoods used for construction and furniture making in Puerto Rico. Its intense red to purple color is particularly attractive in furniture. The wood is so hard that it is virtually impossible to hammer a nail into it, and it is so dense and heavy that it does not float in water. The Guácima (Guazuma ulmifolia) is another attractive indigenous tree with many uses. It is good for carpentry and rope can be made from its fibrous bark, while its fruit is used in many beverages and folk remedies.

Other trees which are found in the park include Aceitillo (Zanthozylum flavum), Molinillo (Hura crepitans), Manaca (Calyptronoma rivalis), Ceiba (Ceiba pentranda), Ortegón (Coccoloba rugosa), Cobana Negra (Stahlia monosperma), and Matabuey (Goetzea elegans). So, why not take a stroll through Parque Doña Inés and enjoy what nature has to offer.