Flaming trees and summertime flowers of Tenerife in the Canary Islands

Spring and summer flowers in Tenerife

Poinciana or Flame Tree
Poinciana or Flame Tree
Leadwort
Leadwort
Petunias
Petunias
Oleander
Oleander
Red Viper's Bugloss on Mt Teide
Red Viper's Bugloss on Mt Teide
Senna flowers
Senna flowers
Prickly Pear
Prickly Pear

Flowers of summer on Tenerife trees

In the island of eternal spring, as Tenerife in the Canary Islands has been often called, it can be difficult to observe the seasonal change but it can be seen in the varied flowering times of many plants and trees, and in all the types that die back or drop their leaves after blooming.

Poinciana

One very spectacular tree, which is a good example of this behaviour, and which has been called one of the five most beautiful trees in the world, is the Royal Poinciana Tree (Delonix regia). It is also very aptly known as the Flamboyant Tree and Flame Tree. It is commonly planted in parks, gardens and along streets and in winter it loses its finely divided fernlike leaves and the long brown woody seedpods, up to 2ft. in length, can be seen hanging down from the branches.

In the summer months it grows new bright green foliage and masses of fiery red flowers carried above. Often the Royal Poinciana Tree grows in an umbrella-shape and one of these in full bloom is truly a sight to behold.

Viper's Bugloss

Another bright red flower that can be seen in spring and early summer is the spectacular Red Viper's Bugloss (Echium wildpretii), which is unmistakeable with its tall spindle-like inflorescences carried above the rosette of rough hairy leaves at the base. This unusual plant has frequently been used as an image of the island and is often depicted on postcards showing the slopes of Mt. Teide where it can be found growing wild. The flower spikes can reach as much as 6 ft. in height and are made up of thousands of tiny red blooms. It is often planted in parks and gardens and the seeds are readily available from gardening shops.

Senna

Another colourful flower that is frequently grown and that blooms throughout the summer months is the bright yellow Senna (Cassia didymobotria) and this is a shrub that can be found in blossom all year round. Its flower spikes have been likened to candles and it has proved to be very popular in Tenerife ever since it was imported from Brazil.

There are many other shrubs and flowers that are at their best in the summertime. The blue-flowered Leadwort (Plumbago auriculata) is an attractive evergreen semi-climber that produces flowers right through the summer months and at other times of the year too. It is used to cover walls and in hedges.

Oleander

Another bush used the same way is the scarlet-flowered West Indian Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis). With its bright bunches of flowers this fast-growing South African native will add a touch of colour to any garden. The Oleander (Nerium oleander) with its attractive pink, red, white or yellow blooms and evergreen leaves continues to flower all the way through from the spring to the autumn. It is often seen in shrub borders and if pruned right back will usually blossom again.

This is something worth remembering that many plants will grow new flowers if the old ones are cut back. The practice of deadheading works just as well on Tenerife roses as it does on ones in a British garden. Marigolds, Petunias and many other bedding plants respond well to this treatment too.

Deadheading

Whilst a bit of pruning and deadheading can often keep a flower looking good, drought can have a disastrous effect. The summer in Tenerife is likely to be a very hot one and last year temperatures soared very high indeed. The intense heat and long hours of sunlight can be a major problem for many more tender plants so it is a good idea to make sure your garden is kept well watered to compensate for this.

Many other tropical species such as cacti and succulents are adapted to withstand the high temperatures and lack of rain. Some like the Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) flower in early summer and their edible fruits ripen as the year progresses. Now who fancies some cactus ice cream? You can get it in the Tenerife mountain village of Masca.

NB: This article of mine was originally published in Living Tenerife magazine Issue 25, July 2005.

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments 18 comments

Chef Jeff profile image

Chef Jeff 8 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

My wife is from Spain and she had the pleasure of visiting Tenerife when she was younger. She loved it! You are one fortunate soul to be living there, I can tell you! But maybe one of these days my wife & I will get to join you in the lovely isles.

Your article is excellent. You are a gifted bard, Bard!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you very much for the compliments, Chef Jeff, and I look forward to meeting you if you ever do visit the islands!


Karen Ellis profile image

Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon

Oh my gosh, they are so beautiful. I would love to visit sometime, when my funds make it available.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

It would be wonderful to meet you too, Karen, so I hope one day you do get the chance! Yes, the island is full of amazing flowers and that's something that made me want to be here!


monitor profile image

monitor 8 years ago from The world.

A very well written article supported with lovely photos. As a child I played in fields planted with flame trees. They were planted as shade trees for cows of all uses! Your article brought back fond memories. Thank you.

Your fan.

Mon.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for posting, Monitor! Who would have thought such ornamental trees would be used for those purposes?


Decrescendo profile image

Decrescendo 8 years ago

Is this an expensive place?


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Depends where you are here and what you're buying! In general prices for accomodation, food and drink are higher in the tourist resorts here and bar prices in some places in these are more than double those outside the resorts. Example of difference in food prices: four bananas for 2.50€ from a supermarket in a southern resort and 12 for 1.10€ from a shop in a northern town. A pint of beer 1€ in a bar in one place and 3.50€ in another in the golf area of the south. Bus fares are cheap but taxis are a rip off. You can pay another 200€ monthly or more for renting an apartment in a resort as one of the same size outside in a village.


EYES CHAMbERS 7 years ago

I HAVE A POEM AbOUT SENNA'S :D MAYbE I'LL POST IT NOW. THEY'RE VERY PRETTY.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

The Gorgeous Senna is aptly named and grows as a tree with spikes of yellow blossoms. These plants are the foodplant of the African Migrant butterfly that has colonised the island because Sennas are grown in parks and gardens.


Vezpa profile image

Vezpa 7 years ago from Currently: London

Do Senna flowers come in any other colors? I don't believe so since you said, "bright yellow Senna " just curious though . . .

I wouldn't mind being surrounded by those beauties! Absolutely amazing!


EYES CHAMbERS 7 years ago

Wow! That sounds like a nice thing to see. Maybe i'll get to puttin up that poem just for you today. I'm helping my mom with wedding plans today so lots and lots of flowers will be seen today :D


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Vezpa, the Popcorn Senna in the picture and the Gorgeous Senna are both yellow and I think they all are! This island is full of amazing flowers - you ought to visit sometime if you get the chance.

EYES CHAMbERS, I am glad to have helped inspire you to publish your poem! Flower power lives! lol


EYES CHAMbERS 7 years ago

:D Yes it does!!!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

Great writing Bard! I love reading about plants:) You didn't mention echium pininana (Pride of Tenerife) I was sure you would! Maybe it doesn't grow where you are. I think it prefers the mountains in Tenerife.

I have some growing here on the Costa Blanca but I think it too hot and dry for them here. They grow well in SW Scotland!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Pininana doesn't grow in Tenerife so shouldn't be called Pride of Tenerife! Where did you hear it called that? I have seen it called "Tower of Jewels." It is from La Palma and is extremely rare there according to my book Wild Flowers of the Canary Islands by David and Zoe Bramwell. It is available from some specialist nurseries though because I have seen it on websites and, strangely, I saw a story about a woman in Cardiff who had a massive one growing in her back garden.

Tenerife has around a dozen native Echiums with Wildpretii (red) and Simplex (white) being the largest and most spectacular and both are very rare in the wild. Wildpretii only grows up on Mt Teide and in the village of Vilaflor and Simplex is only found in a couple of places on the coast of Anaga.

Perhaps we could swap some seeds if you have any to spare?


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

Cheers I sure will do. Email me.

About the plant being called Pride of Tenerife. Google it. Read somewhere it's natural habitat was in the mountainous regions of Tenerife but can't remember where. But of course not everything online is true!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Just Googled it and yes, you are right - Dave's garden has it listed that way but if you read all the comments posted it explains that it is Wildprettii that grows here.

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/1941/

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