Dragon Trees

October 19, 2019

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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Walking ferns

July 20, 2019

In the shadier corners of the laurel forest on La Palma, the ferns walk about. Sort of. Woodwardia ferns live in the damper parts of the forest. You can find them along the river bed at Los Tilos, and in the irrigated garden around the visitor centre. They have enormous fronds, anything up to a metre long. When the tip of a frond touches the ground, it often sprouts roots,…

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The observatory in bloom

June 2, 2019

16 The whole hillside at the Roque de Los Muchachos is in bloom. But where heather moors go purple, the peaks of La Palma go yellow with sticky broom (Adenocarpus viscosus, or codeso in Spanish) and French broom (Genista benehoavensis or retamón palmero in Spanish) Meanwhile the insects are buy enjoying the all-you-can-eat buffet.

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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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Rabbit’s foot fern

Close up of the root of Rabbit's foot fern, Davallia canariensis
November 16, 2018

This is the Rabbit’s Foot Fern Davallia canariensis, which likes to grow in the warmer and damper parts of the island. It particularly likes dry stone walls, barrel-tile roofs and cliffs. As you can see, the name comes from the root, which is very pretty. I believe that the Awara used to make gofio from it, and so did more modern Palmerans when there was nothing better available, although I’m…

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