Species list


Heberdenia excelsa


Aderno, sacatero (Spa).


DID YOU KNOW...? The fruits of this tree are delicacies for the endemic lizards of the Canaries.


An evergreen tree that usually grows no taller than 10 m in height, although it may in exceptional cases reach 20 m. The trunk of this upright tree, is almost smooth in young specimens but becomes more cracked in older plants. The bark is a characteristic whitish-grey colour, like that of the Madeiran holly (Ilex perado), which can be differentiated by its denser branches and the predominant yellowish or lighter green tones of its foliage. The original plant can produce many suckers. The leaves are up to 12 cm long, simple, alternate, entire, quite leathery, and obovate to almost rhomboidal in shape. They are shiny dark green on the upper side and somewhat lighter coloured on the underside, where you can observe a network of veins. The flowers are hermaphroditic, highly perfumed and have 5 elongated, whitish-green petals. They appear in small groups on the branches themselves. In summer, the ends of the branches of this tree are covered in bunches of small purple fruit that become almost black when ripe. Known locally as sáquitas, these fruits are fairly hard drupes shaped like flattened balls, 8-10 mm in diameter. They have an unmistakable thin, elongated appendix extending from the apex, reminiscent of the flower.


Heberdenia excelsa is a plant of shady zones and grows best in the warm, wet environment found in the interior of the monteverde forest area. Nevertheless, also it is possible to find it at the edges of the laurel forests, particularly in the highest and most humid parts where it receives the direct influence of trade winds (900-1000 m), as well as in the lowest sections, at the bottom of cliff falls or at the foot of crags. Shorter specimens of this species, with smaller leaves, can be observed growing as solitary trees sheltered on crags, inaccessible ledges, and moist escarpments.


This plant is endemic to Macaronesia and lives in the Canary Islands and Madeira. In the Canaries it is relatively rare but can be found on all the islands with the exception of Lanzarote. In Tenerife, where Heberdenia excelsa is a little more abundant, it has a marked northern range and is found in the Anaga and Teno mountains. Due to the loss of its potential habitat, this species is scarce in Gran Canaria, only a single population is known on the island of El Hierro (Ladera de Jinama), and one other on Fuerteventura (Riscos de Jandía). The few specimens remaining on La Gomera are concentrated in the Garajonay National Park. On La Palma it is considered very rare in both Barranco de Gallegos and Nacientes de Marcos y Cordero, whereas it is frequent in Caldera de Tajadre.