Follao, follado (Spa).
DID YOU KNOW...? This tree is used to make the staffs for the popular stick fighting sport 'juego de palo', which is considered a legacy of the ancient Canarian peoples.
This is a small, evergreen tree, sometimes considered a shrub, which can be up to 7 m tall. It has a short, thick trunk that soon branches into a wide, parasol-shaped crown with thin, upright, flexible branches (new ones are somewhat tomentose). The bark is reddish brown with silvery shades, and cracked or scaly. This species is clearly distinguished by its leaves, which are simple, opposite, relatively large (10-20 cm in length and 5-8 cm in width), ovate- lanceolate, with a pointed tip and an entire margin, although sometimes the blade may be slightly wavy. They are covered by fine hairs on both sides but this makes them rough to the touch. The blossom is spectacular. The pink buds and small white flowers are hermaphroditic and showy as they appear in large, dense clusters (of 10-15 cm of diameter) in umbel form, i.e., with all the flowers at the same level; together they are reminiscent of a snow ball, especially because of their colour. The fruits are small, fleshy, globose drupes that are a little elongated and less than 1 cm in length. When they ripen, in autumn, they become an almost metallic blue-purple-black colour. Each contains a single seed.
This tree inhabits the laurel forest underbrush, the scrub adjacent to the Morella-Erica heath, and the mixed pine groves, and grows preferentially between altitudes of 600 and 1500 m. It tends to live in places with a certain amount of shade and high, constant humidity that usually have cool, fertile, and fairly deep soils. For this reason it prefers to grow in ravine channels, near water sources, and other places where there is sufficient water.
This species is endemic to the Canaries and frequent on El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, but absent from the eastern islands.