ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Erjos ponds and forest fires in the Canary Islands

Updated on September 7, 2015

The natural world's survivors of the fire

In 2007, Tenerife in the Canary Islands was devastated by some terrible forest fires that began in Icod el Alto in the Los Realejos area of the north and then raged their way across the mountains to the west and south.

These wildfires took a terrible toll on the farmland and flora and fauna of the island and thousands of people had to be evacuated. But Mother Nature always has a safeguard for such disasters and I knew that there would be many survivors of the blaze.

Fire in Tenerife - Erjos photos

Blackened bushes
Blackened bushes
Burnt valley and mountains
Burnt valley and mountains
Dragon Tree survivor
Dragon Tree survivor
Showing what the fire missed
Showing what the fire missed
St John's Wort
St John's Wort
Carline Thistle
Carline Thistle
Erjos pools after the fire
Erjos pools after the fire
One of thousands of pines that burned
One of thousands of pines that burned
Pillar of rock
Pillar of rock

Survivors of the blaze

I went to Erjos nature reserve to investigate the situation there and was at first shocked by the scale of the damage with vegetation on both sides of the road displaying charred bushes and burnt trees, and with a coating of grey and black ash and embers on the ground. However, fire and water don't mix, as we all know, and the ponds of Erjos had withstood the raging inferno that had swept over the place.

Dragon Tree

I made my way down towards them past a farmhouse where a Dragon Tree (Dracaena drago) stood proudly and still alive amidst blackened bushes below and against a wall where all the stones stood out now that any vegetation had been burned away. The house was still OK too, as were some parts of its grounds where vegetables grew. This was something that happened in many places in Tenerife - whilst the fire destroyed all in its direct path, luckily some bits it missed.

Not so the areas ahead though, where all the brambles and other scrub had been reduced to ashes and charred remains and the smell of smoke was still strong. On the mountains above I witnessed the sharp contrast of the green forest on one side and the black and grey of where the fire had taken hold.

Dragon Flies

I walked onward pausing to notice that dragonflies were still hawking over the now very open ground. A Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea) landed on the path by me. Dragonflies are born-survivors that have been here since the days of the prehistoric swamps and it was reassuring to see they were still doing fine.


Birds, perhaps not surprisingly were survivors too, and in the air I could see several swifts. I also noticed Blackbirds (Turdus merula) and a small flock of finches scouting about in what was left of any vegetation. Overhead I heard the unmistakeable cry of a Buzzard (Buteo buteo), probably on the lookout for any lizards or rodents that had survived the fire.

Down at the main pond the reeds and rushes around the edges were mainly still green and Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) were swimming and making typical Moorhen clicking and clucking sounds. Erjos has been known to have had several rare water birds sighted around the ponds in the past, but if any were still there after the fire they were definitely in hiding.

Another pond had dried up completely but that was nothing to do with the fire - it had clearly happened due to the hot summer weather. The cracked mud bore grim testimony to the baking heat.

St. John's Wort

Walking up a path I spied some Canary St John's Wort (Hypericum canariensis), which miraculously hadn't been burned. It was almost as if Saint John himself had been looking out for his herb.

St John's Wort is a remedy in herbal medicine to treat depression but here at Erjos it lifted my spirits by managing to have survived and to be blooming still with its sunny golden-yellow flowers.

Erjos normally is the home to many rabbits but all I could see that was left of them was their droppings on the path. Perhaps they managed to run away fast enough to escape the blaze - I like to hope so. In any case, there was nothing much left for them to eat now, just burnt offerings!

I wandered up the pathway towards the road. I could see some plants with seeds that would do well for the future in the ground that has been cleared by the blaze. A Carline Thistle (Carlina canariensis) had plenty in its spiky flower heads.

Towards the road there is a strange pillar of volcanic rock, almost like a natural obelisk, and with the undergrowth and bushes burned away it really stood out.

As I got back onto the road itself I could see lizards here and there along the top of the bank and at the bases of clumps of the Century Plant (Agave Americana). This tough succulent with its huge spiky leaves was one of the best survivors of all, and most were still alive and some were still in flower with the tall flower spike towering high above. The Century Plant is a non-endemic invader and now that it has so much open ground around it, it seems likely that it will take advantage of this by dropping its baby plantlets and colonising even more territory.


Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is another introduction to Tenerife that will withstand the fires and when it rejuvenates from the rootstock, as it can readily do, it too will probably take over a lot of new ground. It will certainly be fascinating to watch what arises like the Phoenix from the ashes.

Update (August): Erjos pools are now dried up due to the ongoing drought of 2012, and tragically the area has been ruined again in a forest fire that got out of control in August and that also destroyed much of the land around the woodlands. The vegetation that was still growing back where possible from the blaze in 2007 has just been burned again and it looks as if Mother Nature is fighting a losing battle there. It has been called an "ecological disaster."

Update (December 2012): We have had the usual autumn and winter rains and the ponds are full again.

First published in the Tenerife Sun, 2007

Where is Erjos?

© 2008 Steve Andrews


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)