Archive for the ‘Flora’ Category

Its Orchid Season!

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

One of many of the amazing images by my good friend Sue Eatock. See her wildlife writing here.

Ophrys lutea


Oldest tree in Spain

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

File:Tejo barondillo2.jpg

A good candidate to the oldest tree in Spain is a yew named tejo de Barondillo in the  Sierra de Guadarrama, Northeast Madrid. This tree germinated around the year 500 CE ± 300, making it around 1500 ± 300 years old, though other estimates put it as old as 2000 years. More details here and here

An ancient dragon

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

One of the weirdest trees growing naturally in Spain is the Dracaena draco, the Canary Islands Dragon Tree (Drago in Spanish). Reports of one thousand-year old specimens are somewhat exagerrated. The tree, shown above at Icod de los Vino, is thought to be the oldest in the islands at a sprightly 650 years.

The tree ‘s name has mythical origins: for his 11th labour, Hercules had to bring back three golden apples from the garden of the Hespérides, which is guarded by Landon, the hundred-headed dragon. Hercules killed Landon and his blood flowed out over the land, which began to sprout ‘dragon’ trees. Arkive. The origin of this tale lies in the tree’s resin: When the bark or leaves are cut they secrete a reddish resin, one of the sources of the substance known as Dragon’s blood.

Tabernas in flower

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

This lovely photo of Tabernas Desert in bloom was taken by Andrés Ivorra and posted originally on the forum. He notes:

“An exceptional amount of rainfall looks like snow but it isn’t. Linaria nigricans is in full flower in the desert of Tabernas. A joy for your eyes.”

I’m not sure how much it has rained in Tabernas itself but Andrés informs me that rainfall records have been smashed in Almeria capital this winter with some 400mm falling in just two months.

Check out Andrés’ site on Wildflowers of Almeria

Browsing through his site I can see it is not only about flora. It is also the best guide in English on the nature and geography of Almeria in general.

Black poplars of Aragon

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010


I came across this attractive powerpoint in English celebrating the importance of black poplar in forming the landscape in the southern Aragon. The valleys are scattered with traditional pollards which look glorious especially in spring. From Ancient Tree Forum. From the book El chopo cabecero en el sur de Aragon, la identitad de un paisaje. Patrimonio olvidado‘ by Chabier de Jaime Loren and Fernando Herrero Loma.

Dutch elm disease in Spain

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Dutch elm disease (grafiosis in Spanish) arrived relatively late to Spain. It was first detected in the 1980s, though it may well have reached the country a decade before, and has decimated 80-90% of common elms (Ulmus minor) in Iberia. One of the very few elm stands to have survived in Spain is in Rivas Vaciamadrid, near Madrid, as it is isolated from other trees. Efforts are being made here to conserve the trees here and ensure a genetic bank from which one day to replant elms across the country.
Wikipedia (Spanish)

Plant extintion in the Mediterranean

Friday, March 7th, 2008

According to American biology professor Osvaldo Sala, 20-25% of plant species in the Mediterranean will become extinct by 2050 because of climate change and changes in land use. This is one of the highest levels of predicted biodiversity loses (El Mundo).

The dangers of oleander

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Fascinating article by Clive Muir and Sue Eatock on the dangers of oleander (Nerium oleander) which at the start of summer flourishes luridly along Spain’s riverbeds and motorways. Despite its use in municipal planting schemes and private gardens this plant is extremely toxic.

They write “it contains numerous toxic compounds, many of which can be deadly to people – especially young children. The toxins include oleandrin and neriine, which affect the heart, and the bark contains rosagenin, which acts in a similar way to strychnine. The entire plant including the sap is harmful. Even after drying, the leaves are still dangerous. A single leaf holds enough poison to kill a small child. In the past crushed, dried leaves mixed with stale bread have been used as a very effective rat poison…” Read on Olve Press (not for the faint hearted!)

The largest tree in Andalucia

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

The largest tree in Andalucia has been listed by the Andalusian government in the Sierra de los Filabres, Almeria. This immense holm oak (encina) measuring 16 metres wide and 25 metres high is believed to be a remnant of an ancient Mediterranean forest. The tree is known as ‘La Peana’ (El Mundo)