Deciduous forests in autumn

In addition to chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts… trees in autumn offer us a symphony of colors. Reds, oranges, browns, greens, yellows, pinks… Autumn is calling us! The trees warn us: Autumn is coming! Come for a walk! We have chestnuts! Mushrooms! Dry leaves! So why wait, let’s go to the call of nature. In these colorful forests we will appreciate the season as it should be.

Galician forests are usually mixed deciduous, of the Atlantic type, so the range of colors is very rich. There are many fragas, original primary forests, thick, with little human intervention, such as the fragas do Eume, Catasós or A Marronda, with trees with a lot of branches that produce a humidity and characteristic habitats. On the other hand, the devesas are populated by trees with more space between them, not so dense, such as the devesa da Rogueira or Nimo. There are also the soutos, where chestnut trees predominate, and the carballeiras, with carballos (oaks).

As for the autochthonous species, the most common are: oak, chestnut, hazel, laurel, alder, ash, hawthorn, cork oak… Among them, the most common is the oak.

In the province of Lugo, in the area of Os Ancares and O Courel, the landscape looks different with the change of season. The Formigueiros mountain is covered with the warm colors of Devesa da Rogueira, in Folgoso do Courel. This primary forest, of about 3 km2, is very diverse, with hazelnut, blueberry, beech, holly, ash, birch trees…, which give it the attractiveness it has. Here the richness of the flora goes hand in hand with that of the fauna, of course (roe deer, ferrets, martens…). Moreover, as it is on a steep hillside, the rivers and streams flow between waterfalls and cascades – quite a spectacle! In Moreda there is an interpretation centre where you can learn about the curiosities and ecological importance of the area, as well as the routes you can take. In the area of Os Ancares there are also jewels of this type, such as Faial de Pintinidoira, between Cervantes and As Nogais, or Bosque dos Grobos, where the trees seem to merge with the large rocks.

In the eastern part of the province of Lugo, in the municipalities of Baleira and A Fonsagrada, lies Fraga da Marronda, where beech, chestnut, oak, alder, river ash, willow, poplar, holly, hawthorn, blueberry… in total there are more than 170 different species of trees and shrubs. The A Marronda route takes us through the trees along the Serra do Pozo and, further on, through the gallery forest on the banks of the Eo. However, the most unique thing about the fraga is that it is home to the beech trees found at the westernmost tip of Europe.

And if Fraga da Marronda has the westernmost beech forest, Bidueiral de Gabín, in Montederramo, in the province of Ourense, is one of the birch forests with Euro-Siberian vegetation found furthest south in Europe. It also has oak, holly, hazel, rowan, blueberry… but in autumn the light yellowish tone of the birch trees prevails. There is a route that starts in Montederramo and goes into the birch grove, which is highly recommended.

Ourense, land of magostos (roast chestnuts festival), has a lot of souto, evidently. Souto de Rozabales, in Terra de Trives, in Manzaneda, covers 1.80 ha, full of chestnut trees planted centuries ago. The protagonist is the “castiñeiro de Pumbariños”, which may be at least 500 years old.

In the municipality of Lalín, in the province of Pontevedra, there is a forest that we must visit in autumn: Fraga de Catasós. In this mixed forest, most of the trees are carballos, although there are also unique chestnut trees several centuries old, which may be the tallest in Europe. There are also cork oaks, ashes, laurels, birches… The route around the forest is very accessible and well signposted. Emilia Pardo Bazán walked through this forest a lot while she was writing Los pazos de Ulloa.

Another literary fraga is Fraga de Cecebre, in Cambre, A Coruña, which inspired Wenceslao Fernández Flórez in El bosque animado, although nowadays, even with its richness, it is much diminished. In the nature classroom of Crendes, there is a lot of information about the forest, the dam and the house-museum of the writer.

And we finish with the Fragas do Eume, the best preserved coastal Atlantic forest in Europe, despite the fire; moreover, it hides a treasure: the monastery of Caaveiro. This natural park, covering 9,000 ha, is full of resources to enjoy autumn, with many routes, viewpoints, bridges, recreational areas…

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