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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Golden Apples

Strawberry tree, or Arbutus canariensis
October 23, 2015

The Canary Islands Strawberry Tree, Arbutus canariensis, known in Spanish as madroño canario is a tree native to the Canary Islands. Surprisingly, it’s in the same family as heather. Well I was surprised. Heather leaves are tiny little needles, while strawberry trees have broad leaves. Tehre aer several growing outside the Caldera visitor centre. As you can see, the fruits are bright orange, and they look a lot like kumquats,…

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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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Burr Marigolds

June 7, 2015

  My father was a botanist, so he really looked forward to his first trip to La Palma. One of the plants he most hoped to find were burr marigolds – Bidens alba. But he later said he was trying not to hope too much in case he was disappointed. That made me laugh, because they’re an extremely common roadside weed. In fact they’re a right nuisance for exactly the…

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Wild Peas

May 22, 2015

  These are wild peas, Pisum sativum. They grow all over the island, and very pretty they are too. The flowers are edible, but I don’t know if the peas themselves are. Certainly sweet peas are poisonous.

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