The Palmeran Violet

This is the 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. You can find them beside the road from Santa Cruz to the Roque de los Muchachos well above the tree line.

May 14, 2008

Cochineal and Prickerly Pears

In the 1850s the export market for Palmeran wine collapsed, and somebody had the bright idea of going into cochineal production. Before the advent of synthetic dyes, this was far and away the best red dye available, particularly for wool. For one thing, it doesn’t fade. Cochineal is made from a parasitic insect (Dactylopius coccus), which lives on prickly pears (tuneras), so the plants and insects were imported from Mexico….

May 7, 2008