A Botanical exploration of the Barranco del Infierno, Adeje

On Friday I had a walk with two friends interested in nature and we had a great day out.  We first visited the upper part of the Nature reserve of the Barranco del Infierno, reached from Ifonche, but much of what we went to see there had suffered from the fire in July.  Although while we were there we had some close encounters with two Canarian woodpeckers, and four Barbary partridge, which we spent many happy minutes watching and trying to photograph.  


Looking up the Barranco del Infierno from near the start of the path, with Sea Rosemary (Campylanthus salsaloides) in the foreground

Then we decided to go down to Adeje to look at the lower part of the barranco there.  It had previously been closed to the public but we found the gate open and scores of people walking both ways along the narrow path.  There is a warning, quite rightly, of the danger of rock falls in the barranco, which is especially dangerous in the narrow gorge section at the far end.  Clearly it would be inadvisable to walk there in wet and windy weather when falls are most likely to occur, but on a fine and sunny day as it was last Friday it posed no more risk than many other mountain footpaths which we venture onto.


Mountain carrot (Todaroa aurea)

The first part of the path is high above the watercourse of the barranco on the northern side, where it winds in and out around the natural contours of the barranco.  This part is much exposed to the sun and has vegetation which tolerates this.  This included the non-native Prickly pears (Opuntia sp.), Bitter and Sweet Spurge (Euphorbia lamarckii and balsamifera), and Canary Spurge (Euphorbia canariensis).  But among these, the most notable at this time of year were the Mountain Carrot (Todaroa montana) and Sea Rosemary (Campylanthus salsoloides), both of which were present in great numbers and full of flower.


Canary bryony (Bryonia verrucosa)

After a few bends in the path taking us deeper into the barranco we reached areas less exposed to the sun, with shrubby plants such as Canary madder (Rubia fruticosa), Spiny buckthorn (Rhamnus crenulata), Balo (Plocama pendula), and Cornical (Periploca laevigata).  The Canary madder and the Cornical were both in flower but both are greenish small flowers that some may not notice, though they are worth looking at.  Draped over some of the bushes were the climbing stems of the Canary bryony (Bryonia verrucosa), covered in yellow flowers at the moment.  Perhaps the most noticeable flowers of this section were the purple flowers of the Canary lavenders (Lavandula canariensis), and the white daisies of the Marguerites (Argyranthemum gracile).


A section of the path around the middle of the barranco, with Canary lavender in the foreground (Lavandula canariensis)


After about 40 minutes of walking the path descends to and crosses the streambed.  Immediately after crossing the streambed the vegetation seems more luxuriant, and, in addition to many of the previously mentioned shrubs there were Tenerife Tree bindweed (Convolvulus floridus), Wild jasmine (Jasminum odoratissimum) and Maple-leafed lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia), the latter two in full flower.  Up the cliff side to the right were two Juniper bushes, (Juniperus phoenicia ssp canariensis) the species that grows in the lower regions.


Maple-leaved lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia)


The Barranco turned a bend shortly after and we were into the shade.  We crossed the streambed again, zig-zagged up a small slope and arrived at a small clearing with a wooden trunk-like storage box.  Nearby a signpost had a 5 on it.  From here on the barranco narrows to a gorge and the path is more difficult with many stream crossings on bridges or stepping stones, and several obstacles such as fallen trees partially blocking the way.  It is a pleasant change, though, for those used to walking in south Tenerife, to walk next to a running stream, with luxuriant vegetation around.  There were Canary bell-flowers in this section, and Canary willow trees (Salix canariensis) with their large flowers like pussy willow, and I saw one Maytenus tree (Maytenus canariensis), though it was not in flower.  Eventually the path ends at a pool fed by a waterfall coming down the side of the closed end of the gorge.  It took us one and a half hours to walk to the waterfall, but we were walking quite quickly with few stops, and could have easily spent a lot longer, there was so much to look at.  


Immature fruits of Tamus edulis, a scambling climber we saw in the narrow gorge at the far end of the walk


The waterfall at the end of the Barranco del Infierno walk

From the waterfall it is necessary to turn around and go back the way you came, and enjoy  afresh the lovely landscape and the great range of plants.  I did not take the GPS on this walk as the satellite coverage can be difficult in a gorge.  The distance is probably about 4km each way, if you go to the end, but you can turn around at any time.  




About Sally Whymark

When I retired and moved out to Tenerife a few years ago, one of the things I really wanted to do was go walking in the mountains. The scenery is very dramatic, and varied. The views are amazing. The native birds and butterflies and other fauna are remarkable. But the flowers - they're just stunning. Little did I know how this would fire up my interest in plants. While living in England, I had always had an interest in flowers and plants, indeed I ran a plant nursery with my husband for many years, but had not spent a great deal of time pursuing botany. But when walking in Tenerife, I noticed all the unfamiliar shapes of the local flowers, and longed to find out more about them. There are literally hundreds of species endemic to just Tenerife (or even just one part of it), the Canary Islands, or Macronesia (the Atlantic Islands, including Madeira, Canaries and Azores). They are so exciting, and so many of them are really showy as well. So I have started this blog to share with you my excitement at all the great sights I see when walking in Tenerife. I hope you'll enjoy it - and want to come here and experience it for yourself.

Posted on January 7, 2013, in Botanical interest, Walks in Tenerife, West Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hallo, i have discovered Your blog just half a hour ago. I am retired, and ex owner of a succulent plant nursery in italy. I spend my (new!) life in Tenerife looking around to see endemic plants. In your article I realized a plant I saw in the Barranco was Todaroa aurea. Thank You!! I am much affectionate to this plant I had not yet identified, as Agostino Todaro was a late Director of the Botanic Garden of Palermo, and he described many succulent plants. Tomorrow I will be again in the barranco just to see if the few plants of convolvolus volubilis have flowers. I live in Tejina de Isora, and 300 meters from my home there is the only population of Euphorbia atropurpurea v.modesta, described in 1957 by Eric Sventenius (EriK Svensson) who then founded the Jardin Botanico Canario en Tafira. Well… as You see I like (too much…) speaking about plants. I would be pleased to join Your walks as I usually go alone . Here is my last post about plants I photographed in Fuerteventura two weeks ago :


    I was there accompanying a botanist from the Erbario Tropicale di Firenze ( which, by the way, is dedicated to Philip Barker Webb who spent his life describing plants of the Canary Islands…..)

    I write on many forums and botanical journals. I speak (pidgin)English, Spanish, Italiano.
    Thanks in advance for Your kind attention,
    roberto mangani
    Calle Mejico 15
    tejina de Isora

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