Aguamansa and La Caldera cloud forests of Tenerife in the Canary Islands

La Caldera photos

Copper-coloured Manzanita tree
Copper-coloured Manzanita tree
Asphodel
Asphodel
A bridge
A bridge
Graffiti
Graffiti
Canary Island Geranium
Canary Island Geranium
Tree Heather
Tree Heather
Ranunculus
Ranunculus

In the misty mountains

La Caldera is a popular beauty spot in the forests above the La Orotava valley in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It is just above the village of Aguamansa and both places are often shrouded in dense cloud, which makes visibilty poor but adds a weird and magical quality to the area and really benefits the trees and other plants that flourish there.

When my friend Chris (CJ) Stone was on the island last year I took him to see the cloud forests of Aguamansa and he was absolutely fascinated by the copper-coloured tree trunks we found on some species that grows along the road there.

They really look not just copper-coloured but as if they are made from the metal. I have been looking in vain in my books and searching online but I still cannot find what these trees are.

Most of the other trees are Canary Pine and Tree Heather and because of the dampness caused by the cloud cover the branches and trunks are often festooned in Old Man's Beard and other species of lichen.

The ground is carpeted in moss and pine needles and I stopped to admire a very big and ancient pine tree I found deep within the forest.

Many wild flowers grow there including the very beautiful Asphodel (Asphodelus aestivus), the Canary Geranium (Geranium canariense) and, from the buttercup family, the yellow-flowered Ranunculus cortusifolius. Species of Canary Island Sowthistle (Sonchus) are easy to spot with their jagged leaves.

The beautiful rose-pink flowers of the Jarón or Amagante (Cistus symphytifolius ) shrub are carried on the bushes of this endemic Rockrose shrub, and bright yellow bushes of some species of Teline also brighten up the sides of pathways through the forests.

La Caldera and Aguamansa are both on the road up to Mt Teide and because of their height and the frequent cloud the temperature is often quite cool for Tenerife. This doesn't put off local people though and there is a recreation area for barbecues as well as a bar and restaurant by the car park in La Caldera.

The smell of woodsmoke and food cooking blends with the smell of pine resin and the earthy aromas of the forest floor. Species of wild mushroom are often to be seen in the damp mossy and pine-needle covered ground. There are water channels coming down from the higher mountains and I found a spring at one place.

There is a wealth of wildlife living in the forested area including some rare birds and wild flowers. It is said that the Canary Island Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea) has been seen there but all I spotted while I was there was the Canary Island Tit (Parus caeruleus teneriffae) and some Blackbirds. In the dense swirling cloud it is difficult to spot anything much at times though!

Along the road there were large and conspicuous clumps of the bushy Viper's Bugloss species Echium virescens . This is a really spectacular endemic wild flower that I love to see.

There is a regular bus service from Puerto de la Cruz on the coast that takes you to Aguamansa and La Caldera. The journey is an interesting one because you are leaving the usually warm and sunny coastal resort to climb into the misty mountains and there are some great views along the way.

Exploring Tenerife by bus is a great way to see the island and the ride on the 345 takes around 45 minutes. It is such a contrast between "civilisation" down below and the wildness of the forests hidden by clouds.

UPDATE: Since publishing this hub, hubber Jerilee Wei has successfully identified the trees as a Manzanita species. Thank you, Jerilee! Having checked out descriptions of the many species I think it is the Common Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita).

The Bearberry or Manzanita in astrological terms is ruled by Mars and there are many other trees, shrubs and flowers that do well on this island that are also under the Red Planet's dominion.


More La Caldera photos

Horse
Horse
Mossy ground
Mossy ground
Wild mushroom
Wild mushroom
La Caldera information sign
La Caldera information sign
Spring
Spring
Teline bush
Teline bush
Canary Island Sowthistle (Sonchus species)
Canary Island Sowthistle (Sonchus species)
Ancient pine tree
Ancient pine tree
Echium virescens
Echium virescens
Fungus
Fungus
Manzanita tree
Manzanita tree
A group of woodland fungi
A group of woodland fungi

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Comments 7 comments

Lou Purplefairy profile image

Lou Purplefairy 7 years ago from Southwest UK

I am intrigued by this tree's colour of the bark and its silky smooth texture. I'm sure the good people at Kew may be able to identify this tree for you. I myself have spent dsome time online looking for some clue to its identity. As Caldera is part of a national park is there some botanical guide which may shed some light on these? Interestingly, perhaps some craftspeople/carpenters have used the wood from these trees in local crafts. I hope you can solve the mystery of this beautiful tree's identity soon!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

I am sure there are botanists here who know what the trees are but I don't know how I'd find such people easily. Yes, the bark is a smooth as it looks. I don't even know if it is a native tree. It could be an ornamental species that has been planted as they are at the side of the road not up in the forest. La Caldera means the kettle or the boiler and I assume this si a reference to all the cloud. There are strange cliffs in the area too known as Los Organos - the organs. The whole place is very strange! But sadly that doesn't stop young people carving graffiti into tree trunks! There is a lot of this form of vandalism going on here.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

How interesting! The tree is similar to ones I've seen here and elsewhere. Manzanita comes to mind, but I don't think so, I'll have to give it some thought.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Yes, Jerilee! that is indeed what they are. I thought they were in the Ericaceae (heather family) because of the leaves and small flowers and yes, the Manzanita is in this family. I know the small types as the Bearberry but didn't realise there are some species that grow as trees.

THANK YOU, Jerilee for solving the mystery! I have added an UPDATE at the bottom of the text and a link.


Lou Purplefairy profile image

Lou Purplefairy 7 years ago from Southwest UK

Great to see that they have been ID'd. And I love the name! Thank you for teaching me something new Jerilee, and thank you Bard for your wonderfully informative hubs.

I especially like the photo of the horse snoozing on a break. So many horses I see in work outside of the UK are in such poor condition, but this fellow looks like he is well loved! I hope he got some mints or an apple!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

The photos are breath-taking, and as always, I'm in awe of your knowledge of all things botanical. So I had to chuckle at the caption under the photo of the horse: just plain "Horse"! You rock, Steve! :)


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your latest, Lou, and thank you JamaGenee, for your comments too!

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