Viñátigo, carisco, cárisco, viñático (Spa).
DID YOU KNOW...? The toxicity of ‘Persea indica’ sap was confirmed when rodents were seen to fall from the tops of these trees after eating their fruits or shoots.
Large evergreen tree that can be more than 20 m tall in optimal conditions. It has a fairly straight, sturdy trunk that is frequently surrounded by shoots at the base (suckers), and which quickly branches into a wide, dense crown. The bark is dark grey and cracked; nevertheless, for a long period, the young branches keep their greenish colour and characteristic elongated white marks, known as lenticels. The leaves are simple, alternate, oblong-lanceolate, quite large (up to 20 cm long and 7 cm wide), and slightly leathery. They have a smooth tip and an entire margin that is sometimes a little folded over. They are dark green on the upper side and somewhat paler on the underside. As they age, their colour changes to yellow, orange or reddish, which makes the tree look autumnal throughout the year. They are aromatic and give off a pleasant aroma when crushed. The leaf stalks are 2-3 cm long and usually yellowish in colour. This tree mainly blooms from March to August. The flowers are very simple and individually inconspicuous, as they are small (1 cm) and the six tiny petals are greenish white. Even so, they are somewhat more apparent when grouped into small clusters located at the ends of the twigs. The fleshy fruits are drupes, like small olives, about 2 cm in length, which contain a small single nutlet with a seed. When ripe, they change from green to purple or bluish black.
This is a tree of the untouched laurel forests, where it may be frequent. It prefers shady spots, although it can withstand direct sunlight well. It is not tolerant of wind and requires deep, constantly moist soils (it reacts badly to prolonged droughts), which is why it is usually found at the bottom of ravines and in river valleys in the laurel forest. Beyond the limits of these forests, it can very occasionally be seen in humid river valleys with permanent water. It tends to grow at altitudes of between 600 and 1000 m.
This tree is endemic to Macaronesia. It is present on all the islands of the Azores and Madeira, whereas in the Canary Islands its distribution is confined to El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.