Flaming trees and summertime flowers of Tenerife in the Canary Islands
Spring and summer flowers in Tenerife
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.