Mocán, mocanero, mocanera (Spa).
DID YOU KNOW…? The native peoples of the Canary Islands called the sweet fruits of this tree 'yoyas'.
This evergreen tree tends to be small, reaching a height of no more than 4 m, and is somewhat squat. However, in exceptional cases it can be 10 m tall. Its trunk is usually sturdy and the bark varies in colour and roughness with age: it is green and smooth to greyish and slightly rough, even achieving a brownish colour and rougher texture. Its abundant foliage and its globose and relatively small crown give this tree a very compact appearance. The leaves are simple, alternate, elliptical-lanceolate, 4-6 cm long and 2.5-3 cm wide, somewhat leathery and with either an entire or serrated margin that is not very obvious. They are shiny, deep dark green on the upper side, and paler on the underside. When juvenile specimens are backlit, it can be seen that they are covered in fine hairs. At the beginning of the year, the lush flowers of this tree appear alone or grouped into small clusters, hanging from the tree like little bells. These aromatic blooms are hermaphroditic, with numerous stamens and 5 creamy-white petals. The fruit is a fleshy capsule the size of a hazelnut (1-1.5 cm in diameter) that opens when ripe, and which turns from green to reddish and, finally a blackish purple colour.
Visnea mocanera is a species that needs direct sunlight and it can tolerate very high temperatures. It grows optimally between altitudes of 300 and 600 m, below the sea of clouds, and is typical of the laurel and thermophilous forests. It can sometimes appear alone or even be relegated to cliffs and inaccessible escarpments.
Visnea mocanera is only present on Madeira and the Canary Islands, with the exception of Lanzarote. In the Canaries, the best examples of this species are found on La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. This latter island is home to the most spectacular groves of this tree, known locally as mocanales, particularly in Cuesta de Jinama in El Golfo, where they form dense patches. This tree is found all over Tenerife, and while it is sporadic in the north, it is fairly frequent in the south (mainly in the Altos de Güimar). It is, however, considered quite a rare tree on Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.