La Palma’s Violet

Viola palmensis, the palmeran violet
May 22, 2019

This is the lovely little Palmeran Violet, Viola palmensis. It only grows on La Palma, above 1,900 m. (There’s a similar violet on Tenerife, but it has smaller flowers). It used to be rare, but the island government has a program of replanting areas and it’s making a comeback. You can find them beside the road from Santa Cruz to the Roque de los Muchachos well above the tree line….

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Wild Peas

Purple pea flowers
May 8, 2019

These are wild Tangier peas, Pisum sativum. They grow all over the island, and very pretty they are too. The flowers are edible, and the original inhabitant used to make gofio out of the tiny peas.

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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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Almond Blossom in Garaf??a and Puntagorda

Almond blossom around an old barn with a dragon tree. Garafia, La Palma island
January 19, 2016

The almond trees have blossomed early this year. Most of the almond trees are in Puntagorda and Garafía, although there’s a good number in El Paso too. They produce small, rather bitter almonds which are out of fashion and don’t fetch a good price, (although I enjoy a saucer of toasted almonds with a glass of wine) so that most people don’t harvest the almonds, or only harvest for their…

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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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Tower of Flowers

May 20, 2015

  Because La Palma is an island, the plants here evolved in isolation, and many of them are unique to the island, or to the Canaries. One of my favourites is the Tower of Jewels — Tajinaste in Spanish and in Latin, the Echium genus. It’s related to borage, and most species have a big spike with hundreds of tiny flowers. The most spectacular is Echium wildpretii, which really is…

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