Tenerife is Blooming Marvellous

Mon, October 24th, 2011 - By Andrea Montgomery

“In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” – not the best grammatically constructed sentence but one that served its purpose well and I for one have never forgotten the date Columbus discovered the Americas.

What I didn’t know before I moved here was that with the discovery of the Americas, Tenerife became the crossroads between Europe and the exotic New World. Gold, silks, art treasures, spices, slaves and exotic plants all passed through Tenerife on their trading route and some took root here. Many species of plants and trees never before seen in Europe thrived in what botanists describe as ‘the perfect climate’ of the north of Tenerife and today their descendants make Tenerife a blooming lovely place to be.

Most ‘exotics’ are now cultivated in Valle de Guerra around Tejina, the area known as Tenerife’s hothouse, which is where most of the exotic plants you see in your hotel lobby in Playa de Las Américas, Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje and Los Gigantes come from.

Bird of Paradise/ Crane Flower (Strelitzia Reginae)
This most spectacular of cut flowers has become an icon of Tenerife and graces hotel lobbies and restaurant tables all over the island. You’ll find hundreds of them in huge pots in the doorways of the Casas de Los Balcones in La Orotava and inside you’ll find them on souvenir fridge magnets. If you fancy taking a piece of paradise home, you can buy Strelitzias at the South Airport and they last for quite some time.

Jacaranda (Mimosifolia)
Native to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, the Jacaranda blossoms twice, once from April to June when the stunning blue/violet flowers appear at the tip of bare branches and again in August and September when the tree is covered in delicate leaves. A spectacularly beautiful tree in flower, the best Jacaranda displays are in the Plaza de San Marcos in Icod de los Vinos and in Parque Garcia Sanábria in Santa Cruz where the flowers fall to create vivid carpets.

Flame of the Forest (Royal Poinciana/Delonix Regia) 
Often known simply as ‘flamboyant’ this native of Madagascar is like an exotic chandelier of flame red flowers during spring and summer. I always associate this tree with hot nights listening to cool Blues as the flamboyants in Plaza de Concepción in Santa Cruz are always in full bloom during Santa Blues and the audience stands beneath their flower-laden bowers to listen to the music. When the seeds appear they are contained in flat, woody pods like oversized pea pods which make a loud rattling noise and are used as percussion instruments in traditional Romerías.

Hibiscus/Rose of China (Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis)
There are more than 200 species of hibiscus in a variety of vivid colours and they are used extensively as hedging in Tenerife. The exotic trumpet shaped flowers may look spectacular but watch for the pollen on the ends of the stamen as you brush past, it will temporarily dye your clothing. If you happen to be near a hibiscus hedge, watch for the cheeky Tenerife Blue Tits who steal the nectar by pecking into the bulb behind the flower rather than enter past the stamen. Not only do they fail to pollinate the plant but the flower falls off soon after.

Posted : Monday, October 24th, 2011 at 11:14 am
Category : about tenerife
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