Species list


Morella rivas-martinezii

Faya herreña*

Faya herreña (Spa).


DID YOU KNOW...? Common fruit-eating birds, like the chaffinch and blackbird, seem to be involved in the spread of this tree.


This rare tree is very branching and is usually 8-10 m tall, although it can sometimes reach 20 m. Its bark is somewhat cork-like in older specimens. The leaves are simple, alternate, a little leathery, hairless, and have an almost entire or slightly crenated margin. It differs from the firetree (Myrica faya), by having smaller adult leaves (about 20 mm long and 10 mm wide) that are spatulate-shaped, i.e., they are rounded and wide towards the apex and very narrow at the base. The young leaves are usually larger than the adults, 60 mm long and 35 mm wide, and ovate-rounded in shape. As it is a dioecious species, the two sexes are separated into different plants. The male flowers are grouped into short, yellowish-green catkins, about 10 mm long. After fertilisation, the female blooms form fruits similar to those of the firetree. They are somewhat fleshy, globose drupes that are blackish purple when ripe and which have a granular surface a little reminiscent of a mulberry, although they are harder and smaller (5-8 mm in diameter).


These trees are generally solitary and grow on quite poor soils. Morella rivas-martinezii is well-conserved within the Morella-Erica heath (almost optimal), but it can also develop on agricultural terraces or in areas that have had various uses (logging, crop fields, etc.) and that are currently being naturally recolonised by Morella-Erica species.


Morella rivas-martinezii is exclusively endemic to the Canary Islands of El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera. On La Gomera and La Palma, most of the populations are isolated and comprise a single specimen. Almost all the trees of this species on El Hierro belong to a single population.