The flora is very unusual. Out of 1700 wild plants roughly 470 are endemic, which means: They are only to be found here. You can find forests of canary laurel trees, large pinewood forets, spurge, fig cactus and last but not least the famous Dragon Blood Tree, the oldest is said to be more than 3000 years old.

The Canary Pine is also characteristic; it grows on the mountain sides from a height about 1000 meters to 2000 meters. Some of these pines get very big. North of Villaflor you find one with a circumference of 9 metres.
The spurge that grows on the southern part of the island is also worth to mention. It looks like a cactus, but it is an euphorbia pulcherrima and is related to the plant known as the poinsettia “ch
ristmas star”.

A somewhat speciel plant is the snake head (echium wildpretti), that grows wildly in Las Canadas. The first year the plant forms a head shaped like a hemisphere from slim, stiff leaves. The following year it creates an inflorescence, which is about two/three metres high and covered in red flowers. When the bloom ends, the plant dies and is left looking like a dried up mummy.

You will also notice the Christmas Stars, that grow like bushes, avenues of gum trees, bougainvillea, the houseplant Hibiscus known as ”Hawaii hibiscus”. On the road to Guimar we have found “money trees” (Crassula ovata) covered in little white flowers - that was in December! Many of these ornamental plants aren’t original plants in the Canaries, they are imported. That also goes for the Fig Cactus and Agaves, that groves everywhere almost like weeds.

The northern part of the island is more vigorous. If you drive north along Teide, down the mountainside through La Orotava Valley to Puerto de la Cruz, you instantly sense a different climate. Here you find the vineyards of Tenerife, banana plantations and other vegetables.

Because of the height difference, there is a big variation in the vegetation in general. The vegetation is devided into zones, characterized by different plants. The vegetation changes between Bay Tree forests in 1500 metres height, Pine Wood forests in 1900 metres height and the scattered vegetation in alpine height, that also shows a great amount of endemic plants.

The Dragon Blood Tree got its name because of the red resin found in the tree. The resin was sold as a medicine and dyestuff. Buyers believed that the resin came from blood. Resin was used in polish for violins, and in that way it got a beautiful red colour. It has also been used to dye different materials and as a tooth powder. The tree can get very old. The oldest in Icod is believed to be about 3000 years old.

© Copyright Jens Ove Nielsen & Helge Hougaard
Design og programmering af SimpelService.dk