The Colourful and Exotic Arid Rock of Tenerife

Fri, May 16th, 2014 - By Jack Montgomery

Every so often I see Tenerife described as an arid rock by someone who’s visited the island. I thought about this ‘view’ as I drove into Puerto de la Cruz yesterday.

The road leading into the La Paz side of town is lined with an army of orchid trees. At this time of year their delicate and striking lilac blooms create an exquisitely beautiful avenue that welcomes visitors to the town.



We have an orchid tree (bauhinia) in the garden that seems to flower when it feels in the mood rather than to any set pattern (probably because of neglect). It’s a magnet for birds and butterflies. Each morning Canary blue tits swing cheekily on the underside of its flowers whilst a gang of yellow-green Canaries descend on the uppermost branches to welcome the first of the sun’s rays with a song.

Throughout the year it seems that various plants take over the mantle of bathing Tenerife’s landscapes in swathes of vibrant colours.



Spring is the most exuberant season when, as well as fields of wild flowers, the alien spikes of the red tajinaste in Teide National Park burst into spectacular life. There’s a relatively short period in which to see the tajinaste at its best, usually May and June, but in some places it can make a surprise early appearance. This year we saw one in Vilaflor that was in bloom in February which is by a long way the earliest the red flowers have put in an appearance.



Around June one of the most beautiful trees you’re likely to see anywhere jazzes up the streets of some¬† Tenerife towns. The appropriately named flamboyant tree is like nature’s version of a firework, exploding in a dense scarlet cloud. One of my favourite Tenerife scenes is of the trees in bloom in the plaza beneath the Iglesia de la Concepci√≥n in Santa Cruz, especially during the Santa Blues Festival. Not only stunning to look at, the long seed pods from the flamboyant tree make for a decent musical instrument that’s used by parrandas (traditional bands).



A couple of exotic beauties have displays you can enjoy throughout the year. Big and cheerful hibiscus flowers perk up hedges all over the island and are ideal for decorating the ‘good luck’ holes in the sand during beach parties to celebrate Midsummer’s Eve. The most eye-catching of all Tenerife’s exotic floral scene is the strelitzia, also known as the bird of paradise. It’s a title that, once you set eyes on the plant, doesn’t need explaining. The strelitzia is the super model of the plant world; elegant, regal and drop dead gorgeous.



The end of autumn sees the island stained by the blood red, star-shaped poinsettia flowers, lining streets in many towns and resorts. A popular festive plant, when the poinsettias bloom it is a sure sign that Christmas is fast approaching.



Even in the depths of winter, such as it is, Tenerife’s floral world puts on one of its best and most magical displays, especially in the hills around Santiago del Teide, when the island’s almond trees carpet the hills in a sea of pale pink petals.

If Tenerife is little more than an arid rock, then it must be the most exotic, colourful and flower-filled arid rock on the planet.

Posted : Friday, May 16th, 2014 at 10:59 am
Category : about tenerife
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