Canarian Xerophytic Scrub Zone

This zone occurs on the lower slopes of all the islands roughly from sea level to 700 m. It can be resolved into several plant communities, but stem and leaf succulents predominate throughout with species of Aeonium (Crassulaceae), Euphorbia (Euphorbiaceae) and the family Asteraceae being the most common. These include many endemic species such as Aeonium holochrysum, A. percarneum (Gran Canaria), Euphorbia balsamifera and asteroid shrubs such as Artemisia canariensis, Arygyranthemum filifolium (Gran Canaria), Carlina salicifolia, Senecio kleinia, and perennial herbs such as Onopordum nogalesii and Tolpis laciniata.  Endemic species of other families within this zone include shrubs of Hypericum canariensis (Hypericaceae), Parolinia intermedia (Brassicaceae), Salvia canariensis (Lamiaceae), and the woody perennial Paronychia canariensis (Caryophyllaceae). Other unusual shrubs representative of endemic genera found in this zone, and particularly associated with Euphorbia scrub, are the hemiparasitic, Ephedra-like Kunkeliella canariensis (Santalaceae), Noechamaelea pulverulenta (Cneoraceae), with its clothing of medifixed hairs (i.e. attached in the middle), and the strong-smelling Plocama pendula (Rubiaceae) with its pendulous branches.


Canarian Erica arborea Heath

At its upper limit the xerophytic zones gives way to a forest scrub zone of Erica arborea (tree heath) and Juniper phoenicea. Other common components are Myrica faya and the endemic Ilex canariensis (Aquifoliaceae). In some of the more exposed areas shrubs of Erica may be no more than 1 m high, but more typically it forms a dense forest scrub up to 12 m high. Other endemic species in this zone include tall shrubs of Teline stenopetala (Fabaceae).


Canarian Laural Forest

These evergreen forests, which occur at altitudes ranging from 400-1300 m, are dominated by four species of laurel (Lauraceae) - Apollonias barbusana, Laurus azorica, Ocotea foetens and Persea indica. In their natural state they are often dense and luxuriant, but in some of the more exposed areas they can be reduced to low gnarled woodland. They are also generally confined to the wetter north coast areas of the western islands. Other important tree species include the endemic Arbutus canariensis (Ericaceae), Haberdenia bahamensis and Pleiomeris canariensis (Myrsinaceae), Ilex platyphylla (Aquifoliaceae), Prunus lusitanica (Rosaceae), Salix canariensis (Salicaceae) and Visnea mocanera (Ternstroemiaceae). The endemic woody liana Smilax canariensis (Liliaceae) may also be present. Endemic plants are also well represented in the shrub and herbaceous ground layers with shrubs such as Bystropogon canariensis, Cedronella canariensis and Siderites canariensis (Lamiaceae), Carex canariensis and C. perraudieriana (Cyperaceae), Convolvulus canariensis (Convolvulaceae), Crambe gigantea (Brassicaceae), Gesnouinia arborea (Urticaceae), Hypericum grandiflorum (Hypericaceae), Isoplexis canariensis (Scrophulariaceae), Rhamnus glandulosa (Rhamnaceae), Solanum nava (Solanaceae), Viburnum rigidus (Caprofoliaceae), the evergreen climber Hedera canariensis (Araliaceae),  and herbs such as Canarina canariensis (Campanulaceae), Drusa glandulosa (Apiaceae), Geranium canariensis (Geraniaceae), Ixanthus viscosus (Gentianaceae), Luzula canariensis (Juncaceae) and Ranunculus cortusifolius (Ranunculaceae).


Canarian Pine Forest

Natural pine forest dominated by the endemic Pinus canariensis (Pinaceae) occurs at altitudes ranging from 1200-2000 m on the islands of Gran Canaria, Hierro, La Palma and Tenerife. It is generally fairly open with few shrubs or herbs. Of the few shrubs that do occur, on Gran Canaria, the most common include several endemic species such as Adenocarpus foliolosus (Fabaceae), Cistus symphytifolius (Cistaceae) and various species of Lotus and Micromeria like Lotus spartioides (Fabaceae) and Micromeria pineolens (Lamiaceae). Other endemic shrubs include Argyranthemum canariensis (Asteraceae), Descurainia lemsii (Brassicaceae), Isoplexis isobelliana (Scrophulariaceae), Polycarpaea aristata (Caryophyllaceae), while the few herbaceous species include endemics such as the perennial grass Festuca bornmuelleri (Poaceae), Lactucosonchus webbii (Asteraceae), Orchis canariensis (Orchidaceae) and Silena pogonocalyx (Caryophyllaceae). 


Canarian Montane Scrub

On the highest peaks above 1900 m on La Palma, Tenerife and to some extent Gran Canaria an open scrub occurs dominated by endemic members of the Fabiaceae. These commonly include Adenocarpus viscosus, Spartocytisus supranubius (Tenerife), Telina macrophylla (Gran Canaria) and the perennial herb Lotus hillebrandii (La Palma). There are also many other endemic species including tall shrubs such as Echium wildpretii (Boraginaceae) and Pterocephalus lasiospermus (Dipsacaceae), dwarf shrubs like Plantago webbii (Plantaginaceae) and Silene nocteolens (Caryophyllaceae), and herbaceous elements like Buffonia teneriffae (Caryophyllaceae), Nepeta teydea (Lamiaceae), Rhaponticum canariensis (Asteraceae) and Viola cheiranthifolia (Violaceae). On Pico de Teide (Tenerife) a unique community consisting almost entirely of the small, endemic alpine violet (V. cheiranthifolia) can be found on the upper slopes.


Canarian Cliff Vegetation

Much of cliff vegetation of this BioProvince is of outstanding botanical interest comprising many endemic species, but it is difficult to generalize in terms of species composition. On Tenerife the cliffs of El Fraile between Buenavista del Norte and Punta de Teno support over 300 species of flowering plants in just a few square kilometres. These ancient basalt cliffs abound with endemic species. Several endemic euphorbias such as Euphorbia aphylla and E. canariensis (Euphorbiaceae) often dominate, but rare endemics such as the asteroids Arygyranthemum coronopiolium, Centaurea canariensis and Tolpis crassiuscula (Asteraceae), and Limonium fruticans (Plumbaginaceae) have their largest populations here. The basalt cliffs of Tenerife also provide habitat for two endemic genera of the Asteraceae - Vieraea (V. laevigata) and Heywoodiella (H. oligocephala), while the representative of endemic genus Allagopappus (A. dichotomus), also of the Asteraceae, can be found on the cliffs of several islands.  On Gran Canaria the steep cliffs on the west of the island are also rich in endemics and provide refuge for three of the rarest and most treasured plants of the island - the palm-like representative of the endemic genus Dendropoterium (D. menendezii) of the Rosaceae, the glabrous representative of the endemic genus Sventenia (S. bupleuroides) of the Asteraceae, with its basal rosette of leaves, and the almost arborescent Centaurea arbutifolia (Asteraceae).

Further information required



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