La Palma is on e of the westernmost islands in the Canaries, a Spanish archipelago situated about 60 miles off the Northwestern African coast. Its territory is under the influence of the trade winds, which turn the island into a wet place; somethind which is unusual for a place located so close to Africa. That is precisely the reason of its privileged climate, very rarely under 20ºC all year round. With such a mild temperature, the island is a a real natural botanic garden, an spontaneous greenhouse thriving with an astounding variety of flora.
A natural botanic garden
La Palma has got one of the richest and most interesting floras of the planet. The island shares many of its plant species with the rest of the Canaries, Azores, Madeira, the Savage Islands and Cape Verde (altogether, they form the Macaronesian region). But it also has over 80 endemic plants, which live nowhere else in the world.
Among the most characteristic plants of the island, we have to mention tajinastes ( viper’s bugloss – Echium ssp. ), cardones(Cactus spurge – Cistus symphytifolius ), tabaiba (spurges – Euphorbia ssp. ), sorrels ( Rumex lunaria ), Vinagrera (kleinias – Kleinia neriifolia ),verode (sorrels – Rumex lunaria), tedera (tar trefoils – Psoralea bituminosa ), drago (dragon trees –Dracaena draco ), brooms ( Teline ssp. ), tagasastes ( Chamaecytisus proliferus ), St. John’s worts ( Hypericum canariense), faros ( Gonospermum canariense ), bejeques ( la Palma houseleek – Aeonium ssp. ) and La Palma violets ( Viola palmensis ). Furthermore, it harbours several subspecies of somewhat more common plants and trees: daisies, statices, madrones, savin junipers and ferns.
We have to make special mention of the important laurisilvae remainings we can find on the island. They belong to an anciert type of forest which was extinguished in the rest of Europe some years ago. There is an outstanding representation in the municipalities of the Northeast (Garafía, Barlovento, San Andrés y Sauces y Puntallana). Wax-mirtles (Myrica faya), heathers (Erica arborea), laurels (Laurus azorica), ebonies (Persea indica), southern olives (Picconia excelsa), greenhearts (Ocotea foetens) o hollies (llex canariensis) are some of the most distinctive trees in this ecological jewel.
Around 1.500 metres above sea level, lies the kingdom of the majestic Canarian pinetree (Pinus canariensis). Its main feature is its resintance against fire, thanks to its wood (known as tea and rich in resin). It’s not unusual to find some over 30 metres high and several centuries old.
Above all them, over 2.000 metres, only a very reduced group of plants is able to endure the extreme mountain weather. Among them, are sticky brooms (Adenocarpus foliolosus), cedars (Juniperus cedrus), retamones (Teline beneohavensis), wallflowers (Cheiranthus scoparius) and La Palma violets (Viola palmensis).