Heather Trees on La Palma

February 11, 2020

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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Canary Bell Flower

December 10, 2019

This is the Canary bellflower, Canarina canariensis, which has no close living relatives. It scrambles over things, like bindweed, with a stem up to 3 m long, and produces these lovely flowers in December. All the examples I’ve found so far this year are in Los Tilos, on the road up to the visitor centre and around the back of it.

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An Ombu

November 5, 2019

There’s an ombu growing outside St Catherine’s fort in Santa Cruz de La Palma. What’s an ombu? Well it’s as big as a tree and it looks like a tree, but it sort-of isn’t one really. For one thing, the trunk isn’t wood – you can cut it with a knife. this one has a main tunk 90 years old, but the base is about 420 years old. Eventually the…

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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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Canary Pine Trees

September 3, 2019

Today I visited Cumbrecita, and I fell in love with Canary pine trees all over again. So many of them look as though they’ve been carefully trained into artistic shapes, like gigantic bonsai trees. So here are a few of my favourites.

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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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