Species list


Sambucus palmensis

Saúco canario*

Saúco canario, sambuco, sabuco, sabugo, saugo (Spa).


DID YOU KNOW...? This species, endemic to the Canary Islands, is so infrequent that there are only nine natural populations.


This species of elder is a very branching shrub or small tree. It has a small, rounded, dense crown and normally grows to between 3 and 5 m in height. The trunk is short and has greyish brown bark that becomes very suberose (corky) when mature. The branches, sometimes brittle, are upright and tend to arch outwards. The leaves are deciduous, opposite, large (sometimes up to 25 cm long), and composed of 5-9 leaflets, always in uneven number (odd-pinnate) with the terminal one being larger than the others. All the leaflets are dark green, oblong-lanceolate, with a finely serrated margin and sometimes an asymmetrical base. They have a long pointed apex and are somewhat tomentose on the underside. The blossom of this elder is very exuberant. Towards the end of spring, the tree fills with large, dense parasol-shaped inflorescences up to 20 cm in diameter. These comprise abundant, small, hermaphroditic flowers with 5 white petals and a pleasant aroma. After fertilisation, rounded fruits form (drupes), that are a little smaller than a pea (up to 7 mm in diameter), and which appear in hanging groups on stalks that turn reddish. The fruits are green at first, becoming blackish violet when ripe. Each one holds 1-4 nutlets.


This elder is naturally linked to the better conserved and shady sectors of the Morella-Erica heath, particularly very humid valleys and water courses, although it can also be found as a rupicolous species on the rocky slopes that outcrop in this forest. It can also be seen in marginal enclaves that are moderately or even highly altered by the action of humans, and near orchards, particularly on the midslopes, or medianías (zones at altitudes of between 600 and 1500 m), as a result of old plantations of ornamentals or for medicinal purposes. This has led to it becoming widespread on some islands like Tenerife, according to the naturalist and ornithologist Rubén Barone.


This infrequent elder is endemic to the Canaries and grows on the islands of La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, where currently nine natural populations are known.