Coastal walk looking at some great endemic plants in flower

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Neochamaelea pulverulenta, known locally as Leña buena (literally ‘good firewood’), a Canary endemic of dry coastal areas

I did this walk with an Irish walking group last Tuesday, 26th November.  We had intended to do a walk elsewhere on the island, in the hills, but the weather was not promising, so we chose to walk on the coast.  I was happy with this as there are plenty of flowers there at this time of year when there is not a great variety elsewhere.

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Gymnocarpus decandros (synonomous Gymnocarpus salsaloides ) is an unassuming little shrub about 50-60cm high (c 2ft), with stunning little greenish-yellow flowers at this time of year.

We set out from the little village of El Puertito, off the coastal road near Armeñime on the west coast of Tenerife. The village is on an inlet, with a small, safe, sandy beach between two rocky promontories. The walk starts from near the bar at the southern end of the beach. The path goes between the houses and the sea and then wanders up through other houses until it comes into the open beyond them. The path wanders past abandoned fields, up and down, and in and out, but always within sight of the sea, as it makes its way towards La Caleta, the next village to the south.

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Lycium intricatum, known locally as espino de mar (‘Sea thorn’)

The landscape of the shore in this area is very picturesque with lots of inlets, and very varied geology. The rocks are almost all of volcanic origin, but are so different in appearance and colour. The main contrast being between dark grey/black lava flows overlain by a great depth of whitish pumice erupted in an explosive manner. The black rock is more resistant to the sea’s erosion and forms the basis of the rocky promontories, but the pumice erodes down to form sandy beaches in some of the inlets. There are also well cemented conglomerates with rocky breccia some of which have a terracotta red colour.

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Astydamia latifolia, known locally as Lechuga del mar or ‘Sea lettuce’. These are not yet in flower, but will be soon, with showy yellow umbels

These varied rock types makes for a variety of habitats within a small area, and as the path approaches La Caleta the diversity of plants increases. Because of this most of the walk, only excepting the bit nearest El Puertito, is in a protected area called ‘Sitio de Interés Cientifico de La Caleta’ (Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) La Caleta).

A selection of photos of some of the plants present is shown on this page. I hope you enjoy them, and as a result will look more closely at these remarkable plants if you are walking on the coast in the Canary Islands.

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A view over the bay nearest to La Caleta, showing the contrasting black lava rock and the white pumice deposits

The walk is relatively gentle, although there are short stretches where the path is a bit rough underfoot, so good footwear is desirable.

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A view of the plants typical of this coastal area, with the Canary Spurge (Euphorbia canariensis) or Cardón, in the foreground and a view to the mountains near Ifonche in the background

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Asparagus arborescens, Tree asparagus, a Canary endemic which is a woody shrub in coastal areas like La Caleta

The length of the walk, both there and back, was just 5.8 km / 3.63 miles and took us less than 3 hours, including a break for lunch.

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Sweet spurge (Euphorbia balsamifera), here seen with a fruit, is the dominant shrub of this coast

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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 December 1, 2013, in Botanical interest, West Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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