European nettle tree
European nettle tree, Mediterranean hackberry, lote tree, honeyberry (Eng); almez, latonero, lodón (Spa); lledoner, lledó (Cat); almeza (Baq); lodoeiro (Glg); lódão-bastardo (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? It has been suggested that the Lotus tree in Greek mythology is actually the European nettle tree. According to legend, Ulysses' crew forgot their homeland after eating its fruit.
This slender relative of the elms can reach 30 m in height in its natural habitat, although in the Canary Islands it does not usually grow any taller than 10-12 m. The uniform trunk resembles an elephant's leg due to its thin, smooth, grey bark. The twigs are somewhat tomentose. The leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, oval-lanceolate, rounded and asymmetrical at the base, with a serrated margin. They are velvety to the touch and have an elongated tip (acuminate). The flowers are hermaphroditic. They bloom in spring and they are inconspicuous (they have no petals and are greenish), as in other elms. The ripe fruit is fleshy, bluish black, and pea-sized with a large stone, and often remains on the tree after the leaves have fallen off.
When established in the wild the European nettle tree can be found dotted around, occasionally forming small copses, as can be seen in the Barranco de la Virgen (Gran Canaria), where it can be found in the laurel forest. It tends to grow well in humid ravines, next to watercourses. This tree can withstand drought and tolerates all substrates, although it prefers cool, loose, deep soils.
This elm lives in southern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. It was introduced from the Mediterranean region to the Canaries and has spread through suckers. It has become established in the wild on the islands of La Gomera and Gran Canaria.