Thursday, August 4, 2011

Flowers on the volcano

Following yesterday's journey we have now arrived close to the summit of El Teide. The landscape is a vast expanse of bleak volcanic rock, including obsidian, phonolite and trachyte, which form when lava solidifies according to different physico-chemical criteria.

El Teide volcano

Teide's most recent eruption dates back to 1909, and some tremors have been recorded in 2004, indicating a dormant volcano may become active in a few years' time.

El Teide's 1909 eruption, live (photo stolen from here)

In any case, the plants seem quite happy about their choice of habitat. A large number of endemic species characterize Tenerife and many of these species are abundant high above the pine forest. The southern side of the Teide, in the Las Cañadas caldera, is a habitat known as subalpine scrub, dominated by shrubs of the legume Spartocystus supranubius L., together with bushes of the beautiful Pterocephalus lasiospermum Link.

dark green shrubs of Spartocystus supranubius L., with Pterocephalus lasiospermus Link in the foreground

Spartocystus supranubius L. with seed-pods

Pterocephalus lasiospermus Link

flowers of Pterocephalus lasiospermus Link
Amongst these one can also find the very interesting Cheirolophus teydis (C.Sm.) G.López, an endemic plant of Teide that is a very close relation of Malta's national (and also endemic) plant, Cheirolophus crassifolius (Bertoloni). Unfortunately all plants were only on the verge of flowering during this visit. Flowers of C. teydis are pale yellowish.

Cheirolophus teydis (C.Sm.) G.López
Adenocarpus viscosus (Willd.) Webb & Berthel. and several species of Echium are also very characteristic inhabitants of El Teide, characterizing landscapes with their yellow flowers and tall spikes respectively.
Adenocarpus viscosus (Willd.) Webb & Berthel.

Echium sp.

Echium sp. flowers

lycaenid butterfly resting on Echium sp.

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