Tower of Flowers

Blue tower of jewels (Echium webbi) Breña Baja, La Palma, Canary Islands
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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Pitahayas

  The fruits of several different cactuses are called pitahayas. The yellow ones in the picture are Hylocereus megalanthus, and the pink ones are Hylocereus undatus. To be honest, I was rather disappointed by the (lack of) flavour of them both. Some time ago I had what I think was a Hylocereus costaricensis, which was deep red all the way through, and much tastier. I wish I had a bigger…

January 7, 2015
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Canary Bell Flower

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.

December 5, 2014
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Dragon Trees

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…

October 2, 2014
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Canary Pine Trees

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.

September 21, 2014
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La Zarza Rock Carvings

One of the best archaeological sites on La Palma is La Zarza and La Zarzita, in Garafía. You have to walk, but it’s a beautiful stroll through woods of heather and bayberry trees. Yes, heather is a tree here – see the top photo. The whole walk takes about an hour, and first bit of the path is the steepest. It’s clearly signposted. You reach La Zarza first. Here there…

August 16, 2014
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