Sabina canaria (Spa).
DID YOU KNOW...? The Sabinar herreño juniper grove in La Dehesa is famous for the whimsical shapes of its enormous junipers, known locally as 'sabinas', which the continuous wind has twisted into amazing shapes.
This species of juniper is a small evergreen tree that normally grows to 4-5 m in height, although there are particularly robust specimens that are more than 8 m tall. The crown is rounded but becomes flattened when subjected to the constant buffeting of the wind. This force can also result in trees that lean and which have deformed trunks and branches. The bark is reddish brown or dark grey in colour and cracks with age. The twigs are cylindrical and smooth to the touch. They are formed by more or less triangular-shaped leaves, 2-3 mm in length, that are green to whitish and which overlap like the scales on a fish. All the leaves contain essential oils and are very aromatic. This species produces tiny, inconspicuous blooms between February and April. Male and female flowers are usually found on the same plant. It develops spherical false fruits (galbuli), approximately 1 cm in diameter, which are reddish brown when ripe. These hold between 4 and 10 seeds and are usually covered by a whitish layer, as if they had dust on them (bloom).
This species is adapted to both drought and strong sunlight. It is undemanding with regard to soil type but tends to grow on acidic substrates. It comprises one of the most characteristic formations of the thermophilous forests, the juniper groves. It usually inhabits altitudes between 250 and 600 m above sea level on northern slopes and between 300 and 800 m on southern slopes. Nevertheless, in exceptional cases it can grow at altitudes as high as 1500 m, and in La Gomera it can even be found close to sea level.
This juniper species ranges across the Mediterranean region (southern Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa), but also grows spontaneously in the Canary Islands and Madeira, where it is represented by the endemic subspecies canariensis. In the Canary Islands, this plant can be found on El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.