More Palms in Tenerife

A follow-up to Michael Carters recent article on palms in the Canary Islands. Tenerife probably has one of the best climates for nearly any kind of palm. Lots to discover on your next holiday.
Jose M. Zerolo, La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, Ea8ck@inicia.es
Chamaerops No.41, Winter Edition 2001

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1. Roystonea regia
2. Hyophorbe verschaffelti
3. Roystonea regia

First of all, THANKS. It was a surprise to find an article dedicated to the palms of Tenerife, and as a consequence, I started to read it avidly. I have to congratulate Mr. Carter for his descriptions of the palms of our island, our microclimates, and the resulting diversity of the flora that can be found at different places not very far from each other. Mr. Carter visited the two places I find most exciting: the Loro Parque (Parrot Park), with its numerous palms; and the Jardin de Aclimatación de La Orotava (Botanic Gardens of Pto. Cruz), with its diversity.

Of course, it is perfectly normal to miss some places and palms, and therefore I would like to call attention to a few. There are, for instance, Howea belmoreana within all the Forsterianas at the Parrot Park, as well as Hyophorbe verschaffeltii (Pictures 1 and 2).

On my last vacation, my wife and I revisited the Jardin de Aclimatación after a twelve-year absence. We returned several times so as not to miss the wide variety of palms. On seeing that gardens cannot always be prime examples of order and cleanliness, my wife now appreciates more our garden at home, with its Hyophorbe vershaffeltii, Wodyetias, Roystonea, Dypsis, Veitchia, hundreds of seedlings, and so on. In fact, after nine months of „palm brain wash,“ my wife now enjoys it as much as I do, and has even begun to correct me in naming or identifying some palms.

Also of interest to palm enthusiasts visiting us down here on the West African coast, would be the capital city, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Here, an actual 'palm boom' has taken place, as evidenced by the planting of lots of palms on the avenues, such as the Rambla. The palms range from Veitchia joannis to Syagrus romanzoffiana with everything in between, as happens on many squares, and which always surprises me every time I have to drive through the city. Also, do not forget to visit the Parque Viera y Clavijo with its Roystoneas and the two adult Hyophorbe verschaffeltii on the Floristerìa Linda Flor, just crossing the Rambla. Perhaps best of all, midway between Pto. De la Cruz and Santa Cruz, there is a city named La Laguna. It may be known to some already, since it is the location of our University, or perhaps because of its historic background, as seen in the many old and beautiful buildings, small traditional houses, and all that typical stuff. Do not miss its palm collection, started hundreds of years ago, and if you like Phoenix canariensis, have a walk through the Camino Largo (Pict. 3). Beyond the avenue itself are some very interesting private gardens, hosting many Archontophoenix, Sabal, Dypsi, Howea and others. In La Laguna, you may also find some of our oldest Washingtonia, just at the Plaza de la Catedral. It may be interesting to know that here in La Laguna, where I live, we may enjoy on many occasions very cold and windy weather, (which, according to the Palm version Murphy's Law, typically occurs every time I buy or plant a new or tender palm in my garden).

If you are already bored with this island (hi!), have a try with La Gomera. I would recommend a stay at Hotel Tecina, which has a very nice collection of palms. We find this to be an outstanding place to spend three or four days. On the trip to this place, please stop at the capital San Sebastian, which receives you with young Roystoneas in the harbor avenue and many other species in its parks. It is a small place, but very crowded by palms. On your way to the Hotel, you may also feast your eyes on all the Phoenix, which probably originated due to former agricultural reasons. The third place I recommend, Valle Gran Rey, is also a real must for the Phoenix lover. (Pict. 4)

My Introduction to the Palms of Tenerife

When I moved to my new home in La Laguna about one and a half year ago, I did not yet have a garden, and, at that time, the only knowledge I had about palms meant that a palm was a palm, without distinctions. Later I learned that the 'palm' I could see in the front neighbor's garden was Kentia (a difficult name for me at that time). However, I still did not understand how that Kentia was different from those two Kentias on my mother-in-law's garden. I started with the help of Palms of the World [Editor‘s note: for information that is more accurate, readers might refer to the more recent Palms Throughout the World by David Jones]. Here I found out that this strange Kentia was a Howea Belmoreana. My neighbor was in love with it, and yet even he did not know its name!

Months passed by and this palm seemed not to grow, nor did it seem as happy as the ones I had just brought to my garden. Things worsened and the leaves started to get yellow and brown and fall off, and the bud also died and fell off with an awful smell. I think it developed bud root, though his specialist told him that this was 'taladro' (some kind of hungry larvae). The poor, dead Belmoreana was removed and substituted by a small but nice looking Hyophorbe Vershaffeltii (at that time I had two of them already in my garden). It was not a complete Belmoreana divorce, as my neighbor remained sad about loosing the only palm he liked, and tried to find another. He searched extensively, but the responses were always either: „No, we do not have Belmoreana“ or, „What? Are you kidding?“

A few days ago, on my way to a production facility of a friend's nursery to see some Bismarkias (which my wife prohibited me to buy...), I caught sight of some very nice, big and sound Belmoreanas. They were close to the very narrow road and in the vicinity of another big production facility of another nursery. Needless to say that on my way back I stopped there and took a look, and what a look! I never saw as many as H. Belmoreanas so well grown and cared after. I went into this place and asked after the Belmoreana plants, but was told that none were available. Bad luck. On my way out, I saw something strange. Do Belmoreanas palms have branches? The answer, I think, is no, and so I took the camera out and took a picture. Enjoy it.

I learned that this nursery's business is mainly seed trade, and that they only recently began producing Belmoreana plants. After buying an Adonidia Merilli and two Raphis Excelsa's from them, and after aiding them in the identification of some other palms, and after insisting several times, and after many more „afters,“ I finally may get some Belmoreanas for my neighbor, as well as one for myself.

Readers Comments:

On 2-6-2001 Jose M. Zerolo wrote:
Picture number 2 is not the H. verschaffeltii:
I do not know the error origin, but the reult is that Pic. 2 is a Howea Belmoreana within a H. forsteriana wood pictured at the Loro Parque, Puerto de la Cruz. Just in case....

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