A circular walk from Santiago del Teide with plenty of flowers

Several flowering shrubs of Lesser White Bugloss (Echium aculeatum), an endemic of the Western Canary Islands

Several flowering shrubs of Lesser White Bugloss (Echium aculeatum), an endemic of the Western Canary Islands

 

I walked this route with a few friends last Wednesday, 23rd April, and the area was so green and so many flowers were out that I had to blog about it. Some of the flowers were the local endemics, others were common mediterranean plants, but they all were a delight.

Retama bush (Retama raetam) in full flower.  The scent is gorgeous.

Retama bush (Retama rhodorhizoides) in full flower. The scent is gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We set off from the barbecue park on the edge of Santiago del Teide, near the church, along the road in the direction of Erjos and the north. We passed the turning to Valle de Arriba and continued along the main road to the next corner where we took the footpath up the hill. As we approached the footpath we could already see lots of bushes of Lesser white bugloss (Echium aculeatum) an endemic of the western Canary Islands, and Retama (Retama rhodorhizoides) bushes, both covered in white flowers. The Retama is also a Canary endemic.

The view back towards Santiago del Teide from half-way up the initial climb

The view back towards Santiago del Teide from half-way up the initial climb

The footpath started uphill gently and in shade, but soon got steeper, and out in the sun, so we had a few stops to admire the view and look at wildlife. We heard a Barbary Partridge (Alectoris barbara koenigi) repeatedly giving an unusual call, a loud note rising at the end, which we think must have been a mating call. We looked where it was coming from and were amazed to see the Partridge in the branches of a dead shrub. I have never seen one standing on anything other than the ground, and only leaving that in flight very reluctantly when feeling threatened.

A Barbary Partridge (Alectoris barbara koenigi) on the branches of a dead shrub

A Barbary Partridge (Alectoris barbara koenigi) on the branches of a dead shrub

 

 

 

Shortly afterwards we saw the first of numerous Small Copper butterflies (Lycaena phlaeas). During the course of the walk we also saw lots of other butterflies, including Canary Red Admirals, Canary Blues and Small Whites.

Small Copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas)

Small Copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas) on a Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

 

 

 

 

Roof houseleek (Aeonium urbicum var meridionale), another Canary endemic found only on Tenerife in the Teno and Santiago del Teide area

Roof houseleek (Aeonium urbicum var meridionale), another Canary endemic found only on Tenerife in the Teno and Santiago del Teide area

 

 

As we climbed we saw one specimen of the Roof Houseleek (Aeonium urbicum var meridionale) in flower. It only grows in the Santiago del Teide and Teno area, with lots growing on the lava flows (malpais) around Arguayo, but this one was on its own.

A view of Teide from the track down from Mt Gala

A view of Teide from the track down from Mt Gala

 

 

The path reaches the end of a track, but continues upwards to the ridge where some superb views of Teno can be seen, but we went right, walking along the track which winds its way around the slopes of Mt Gala with its fire watchtower and communications masts on top. The track reaches a narrow tarmac access track on a ridge. This is the access to the masts and tower on Mt Gala, and runs down a ridge which marks a watershed between the north and south of Tenerife. It is noticeably greener on the northern side, due to more rain from the north-easterly prevailing winds. We turned right to descend the track till we were not far from the main road, before turning left down a very old, partly cobbled footpath down towards the Erjos lakes. At the bottom we turned right to go up to the main road again, joining it near to the Restaurant Fleytas. Taking this little diversion avoided walking along the main road on some dangerous bends.

Cineraria (Pericallis echinata) another Canary endemic

Cineraria (Pericallis echinata) another Canary endemic

 

We walked on the main road a short way, past the Restaurant Fleytas, took the road to the left after the bus-stop and turned left again before the first house, onto a concrete track. This took us down and then up past some cultivated fields. The field edges, and some uncultivated areas were awash with wildflowers such as Common poppies (Papaver rhoeas), Tangier peas (Lathyrus tingitanus), and Lathyrus articulatus, with Milk thistles (Silybum marianum) and many other vetches and other common flowers.

Tangier pea (Lathyrus tingitanus) was abundant on the northern side of the watershed

Tangier pea (Lathyrus tingitanus) was abundant on the northern side of the watershed

 

The concrete road joins the road to San Jose de los Llanos, we turned left along it for a short distance till we reached a roundabout by the newly completed rural museum which is still not opened. Here we turned right and immediately right again to go around a very fine large pine tree and along a track around Mt Tamaseche. The track runs parallel but higher than the road for a while before turning to the south. The track had lots of flowers either side including the Tree Sow-thistle (Sonchus canariensis) which is common in this area, the Pine Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius), with its large papery pink flowers, Tree heaths, (Erica arborea) and Sticky broom (Adenocarpus foliosus), a Canary endemic. We stopped for our lunch on a bend in the track overlooking the lovely fertile valley of Valle de Arriba.

Lathyrus articulatus, another plant of the sweet pea family which was abundant on this walk

Lathyrus articulatus, another plant of the sweet pea family which was abundant on this walk

 

After this bend the landscape was more south facing and noticeably more open, although the uncultivated fields were still very green, but in places had a haze of carmine in them. Closer examination identified the carmine haze as carpets of Field Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus) in amongst the grass.

Field Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus) is common in the fields above Valle de Arriba

Field Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus) is common in the fields above Valle de Arriba

 

The track goes through a narrow gap where it is a bit rough underfoot and not long after there is a track junction where we went right. This goes through an area with a lot of fig trees in fields which are largely uncultivated, but are full of wildflowers. We passed just one group of yellow-flowered shrubs of the broom family. I have seen them before and believe them to be Teline stenopetala, a macronesian endemic which is more common in the north of the island.

Atlantic Islands Whin (Teline stenopetala), a macronesian endemic

Atlantic Islands Whin (Teline stenopetala), a macronesian endemic

 

At a T-junction of tracks we turned right and soon met the tarmac road which goes to the shrine above Valle de Arriba. We turned right to go down it, although some of us took a short-cut on the footpath lower down. Either way we walked down to the village of Valle de Arriba and through it back to Santiago del Teide.

At a T-junction of tracks we turned right and soon met the tarmac road which goes to the shrine above Valle de Arriba. We turned right to go down it, although some of us took a short-cut on the footpath lower down. Either way we walked down to the village of Valle de Arriba and through it back to Santiago del Teide.

The walk was 12.75 km / 7.9 mls long with 444m / 1458 ft of ascent and descent. It took us nearly 4.5 hours at a leisurely pace.

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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 May 1, 2014, in Botanical interest, Walks in Tenerife, West Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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