Baby pine trees

Looking straight down on Baby Canary pine trees , La Palma island
November 5, 2017

Now that it’s autumn, lots of baby Canary pine trees are growing on the road sides above about 1,200m. At first sight, you wouldn’t think they were baby Canary pine trees, because they’re such a different colour. The adults are dark green, almost bottle green, while the babies are this lovely pale bluey-green. Every time I see them, I want a dress this colour. And when you look down on…

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Heather Trees on La Palma

February 10, 2017

All the heather trees are in bloom along the road to the Roque de los Muchachos. Yes, heather trees. Canarian heather (Erica arborea) is close relatives of English and Scottish heather, but it’s a tree, growing anything up to 5 m tall. The tiny leaves are very like English heather, and the flowers are much the same shape, but always white. The wood’s very dense and hard, so it’s good…

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Dragon Trees

October 25, 2016

The north of La Palma is one of the best places to see dragon trees. These exotic-looking plants grow throughout the Canary Islands, and also in Cape Verde, the Azores, Maderia, and western Morocco, but  on La Palma, they’re still reproducing naturally. The Canary Islands used to have a large, flightless bird, something like a Dodo. This bird ate dragon tree fruits, so the seeds evolved to have a hard protective…

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Towers of Flowers

May 11, 2016

Tower of Jewels is one of the common names for Echium wildpretii. Some of the other are red bugloss, Tenerife bugloss or Mount Teide bugloss. The Spanish name is tajinaste grande or tajinaste rojo, although the ones on La Palma can be blue or mauve. The individual flowers are tiny, but the spikes can be anything up to 3 m high. And they’re in flower on the peaks of La…

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Twin Dragon Trees in Breña Alta

Twin dragon trees (Dracaena draco), Breña Alta These trees stand in Breña Alta, just off the minor road which winds over the central ridge to El Paso. They grow so close together that it’s hard to tell where on trunk ends and the other begins. Of course there’s a legend associated with the trees. Two brothers lived nearby, and were very close, but they fell in love with the same…

March 26, 2016
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Back from the brink

June 26, 2015

In 1988 the National Parks service performed a census of native species on La Palma and many of the results were horrifying. This plant, a type of Viper’s Bugloss, was down to just 50 specimens. So they started planting them inside rabbit and goat-proof fences. It worked, and there’s lots of them in bloom all around the observatory now. Lunch time for bees, bumblebees and butterflies!

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