Canary Island pine
Canary Island pine (Eng); pino canario (Spa).
DID YOU KNOW...? The last meal eaten by the mummified aboriginal child discovered in Roque Blanco (La Orotava, Tenerife) was a dish containing nuts of the Canary Island pine, barley and fern rhizomes.
This is a very large tree that can be more than 60 m tall, although it normally measures between 15 and 25 m. The trunk is straight and thick, with a diameter of 40 to 80 cm (exceptionally as much as 2.5 m) and ashy red-brown bark that is smooth at first, becoming very thick, cracked and scaly in adult trees. The crown is generally pyramidal when the tree is young, but as it ages, it becomes more parasol-shaped or irregular. The needle-like leaves are flexible, pointed and quite long (20-30 cm). Similar to the Monterey pine (Pinus radiata), they are borne in groups of three, differentiating it from the maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis). Male and female inflorescences may be found on the same plant (monoecious). The male flowers are small, yellowish green and grouped abundantly into clusters at the ends of the branches. The female blooms are purple and, in contrast, appear singly or in groups of 2 or 3. The cones are elongated, ovoid-conical, 10-20 cm long and 5-10 cm in diameter at their widest part. They have almost no stalk and always face downwards. They have shiny, reddish brown scales, with more or less blunt tips. The seeds (pine nuts) are blackish, and each has a single, fixed, membranous wing that facilitates its dispersion by the wind.
The Canary Island pine is part of the best-conserved woodland in the Canaries, the pine forest. It is typical of the summits and high midslopes, or medianías, in the south. This tree grows on any soil type, even very poor ones (from acidic to slightly limey substrates). It is a very sturdy species and withstands both high and low temperatures. It is undemanding when it comes to humidity and sun exposure, although it does prefer dry, sunny spots. It grows naturally from 700 to 1500 m above sea level, although it can live in a wide range of altitudes (from 100 to 2000 m).
This pine is endemic to the Canary Islands and grows naturally in El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.