Species list


Laurus novocanariensis


Loro, laurel canario (Spa).


The discovery that the Canarian natives used leaves of this tree as an insecticide is an exceptional finding”

Jacob Morales Mateos, archaeobotanist from Gran Canaria


Evergreen tree, 15-25 m tall with a dense, globose crown. It has a straight trunk, often surrounded by numerous suckers or shoots, and a greyish bark that is more or less smooth and spotted with small, whitish protuberances (lenticels) that become more marked as the tree ages. The leaves are simple, alternate, leathery, generally lanceolate, up to 15 cm long and 4-5 cm wide, dark green on both sides, and with an entire, sometimes wavy margin. They are easily recognised by the small glands situated along the central vein. When they are crushed or squeezed they give off a pleasant aroma. The new buds are somewhat tomentose and a paler green. This laurel blooms abundantly in spring. This dioecious species has both male and female plants. The flowers are small, fragrant, yellowish cream in colour and usually crowded together in very short clusters. The fruit is fleshy (drupe), in the form of an olive, up to 2 cm long, and contains a single seed. It has a shiny cover that is speckled and blackish, sometimes with purple hues when ripe.


This is one of the most representative species of the laurel forest and, in fact, it gives name to this woodland formation. It also grows occasionally in humid communities in the Morella-Erica heathland and the thermophilous forest. It can be found at altitudes of between 400 and 1500 m, and can survive everywhere from cliffs to clearings and hillsides. It is a very resistant species and has a great capacity to reproduce in optimal conditions: sometimes the ground is literally carpeted with plantlets of this laurel, although very few survive.


This tree is endemic to Madeira and the Canary Islands. It grows on El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Fuerteventura. It is doubtful whether it is present on Lanzarote.