Canary laurel (Eng); barbusano, barbuzano, bergusano prieto, vergasco, ébano de Canarias (Spa).
DID YOU KNOW...? The Canary laurel been intensely exploited due to its excellent wood, known as ‛Canarian ebony’.
Large tree, up to 30 m tall in optimal conditions. It has a heavy trunk that quickly branches into a leafy, evergreen crown. The bark is smooth and reddish in young trees, but becomes greyish brown, rough and cracked in older specimens. It often has shoots at the base (suckers). The leaves are simple, alternate, widely lanceolate or more or less elliptical, leathery, with a pointed tip and an entire margin. They tend to be visibly marked by numerous protuberances or galls. Adult leaves are 6-9 cm long, almost 4 cm wide, and a shiny dark green. New leaves tend to be larger (> 10 cm long) and sprout with a characteristic reddish colour that helps identify the Canary laurel. When crushed, they sometimes give off a peculiar, not very intense aroma. The blossom is usually abundant. The flowers are small (1 cm), hermaphroditic, with 6 greenish-white petals and a soft, pleasant fragrance. They form inflorescences composed of abundant groups, generally of three flowers each. Externally, the fruits look like small olives, about 2 cm in length. They have a smooth, fleshy cover that holds a single seed or nutlet. They are green at first, becoming a purple-black colour when ripe.
This tree is characteristic of the laurel forests. It is less demanding than other laurels when it comes to water, and is tolerant of relatively dry environments, meaning the Canary laurel can grow in the thermophilous forest. It is often found in steep spots, although not in valley bottoms or near water courses, and it can grow down humid and shady ravines until it almost reaches the coast. It is not frequent at altitudes of more than 1000 m.
The Canary laurel is endemic to Macaronesia and has two subspecies: Apollonias barbujana subsp. barbujana, found on Madeira, El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, and the rare Apollonias barbujana subsp. ceballosii (Svent.) G. Kunkel that lives in the northwest of La Gomera.