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Discover Club Cordial!

Botánica

Welcome to thegardens of Hotel Cordial Mogan Playa!

Thefertility of Mogan Valley, the science of our gardeners and the yearssincethe opening of the hotel, have given us this magnificent paradisewhichconsists of more than 450 plant species, an exceptional sample ofthe widediversity of our planet which includes, as it should, theendemism of our Canariansoil. Let us to show you, with undisguisedpride, through these pages,a small but significant sample of our lushBotanical Garden.

In mycapacity as head of the great team of staff that makes thisorchardpossible, I should note that, in our permanent compromise torespect the surroundingenvironment, our garden is irrigated withnatural water from wellsand we only use biological means in the fightagainst inevitable pests thatoccasionally affect some of our species.
I think itis justice to thank along these lines the wonderful work that ourteamof care and maintenance of gardens performs daily, led by JoséRamónGuerra, and of course our botanical expert engineer, GerardoHernández,designer and soul mate of these splendid gardens that, onceagain, we inviteyou to fully enjoy.

ITEM 2 THE PALMS The palms are conspicuous monocots that belong to the family Arecaceae. They encompass about 2600 species, with 200 genera. Palms are peren - nial, unisexual or bisexual, and they have a characteristic crown of leaves. Most of them have a single prominent trunk (unicaules), but some feature multiple trunks (multicaules) that develop from the basis (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, Phoenix reclinata). A few palms are climbers with narrow stems (genus Calamus). Palms can encompass a wide range of sizes; some of them are enormous like Ceroxylum alpinum in the Andes (up to 60 m.) and other are dwarfic like the Lilliput palm (Syagrus lilliputiana) from Paraguay, with less than 15 cm of height. Leaves can be pinnate, palmate and bipinnate (genus Caryota). The biggest leaf in the plant kingdom (of ca 25 m in length) belongs to a palm (Raphia regalis). Palm flowers are small and they group in racemes. Most palms produce flowers throughout their life, and other just once in their lifetime, and they die aftwerwards (Caryota urens or Corypha ssp.). Palm fruits can be small and abundant like the dates (Phoenix dactylifera) or big and scarce like the coconut (Cocos nucifera). Lodoicea maldivica from the Seychelles islands produces the biggest seed in the plant kingdom, with a weight of more than 20 kg. Worldwide distribution and ecology: Most palms grow in wet tropical and sub-tropical zones of the world, but some in more arid and drier zones.

This uncannypalm of bluish colour is dedicated to prince Otto Von Bismarck, thefirst chancellor of Germany. With bluish-green leaves that reach up to3 m in width, it grows rapidly, has a single trunk, and may attain alarge size (up to 50 m in height). It grows in savannas in the East ofMadagascar, where its leaves and trunks are used for building. Thoughits natural habitat is dry and warm, it adapts without problem tocolder and more humid climates. It is dioecious (i.e. some plants haveonly male flowers and other plants only female flowers). In recenttimes, it have been greatly appreciated in the gardening of tropicaland subtropical zones around the world, due to its large size and utterbeauty.
This palm with asingle trunk (unicaule) may reach 20 m in height. It boasts bigbipinnate leaves with a shape that reminds one of a fishtail, each ofwhich can reach 6 m of length. Although it is native from warm tropicalareas, it adapts nicely to temperate-warm climates. It grows under thesun and in demi-shade, and it grows very rapidly once established. Aproblematic feature of this palm is that the lower infrutescence startsto die slowly when it reaches maturity. In its native countries, thesap is extracted to make alcoholic beverages or palm sugar. The trunkcontains edible “sagú”, a good source of starch. The difference withrespect to the other Caryota species C. mitis is that the latterusually produces many trunks.
This small plantis, together with Phoenix theophrasti from Crete, the only palm nativeto Europe. It often has several trunks that, in cultivation, may reachbetween 2 and 6 m in height. It is a represen - tative element of theMediterranean flora, and its natural habitats are somewhat rockycoastal areas from this region. Its palmate leaves have thornypetioles, and its small yellow-orange fruits are edible. It isfrequently grown in gardens of subtropical and Mediterranean areasworldwide, and it adapts better to cultivation under the sun in a widevariety of climates, even resisting frost. Adult specimens resistdrought, salinity and strong winds. It is perfect for cultivation inpots, and its small size and thorny petioles make it highly suited forrock gardens.
This genus contains 14 species (all of them from Mada - gascar), among which N. decaryi stands out because of its three-sided trunk and its elegance. It grows conside - rably quickly and it may reach 15 m in height. Its pinnate leaves, erect and folded at the tip, are distributed in three rows; furthermore, they have filamentous extensions at the base. Its extremely peculiar but distinguished appea - rance makes it very popular in gardening despite its rarity in the wild, where less than 1.000 individuals are known. It adapts easily to different cultivation conditions (even in pots), and it prefers sunny or demi-shade exposures. It grows much better in sandy, well-drained substrates, as it does not withstand well water accumulations in the ground. It is very difficult to transplant.
This palm, which features a single erect and wide trunk, may reach 20-25 m in height. It is a plant symbol in the Canary Islands, and it is also cultivated in the avenues of many cities in all continents. It adapts to tropical, subtropical and temperate climates, it withstands frost, and it can grow in nutrient-poor soils. It hybridates naturally with the date palm (P. dactylifera) from which it differs by its single trunk, its many more leaves, and its smaller dates. By contrast, the date palm produces big racemes with edible yellow-orange dates that were eaten by the Canarian aborigines. The recent outburst in the Canaries of two insects that attack the Canarian palm (Rynchonphorus ferrugineus and Diocalandra frumenti), represents a glaring threat for its wild and cultivated Canarian populations. This palm has had many uses since pre-hispanic times in the making of baskets, brooms, hats, as forage, as a source of ‘palm honey’, or in the building of bee hives with its trunk.
This magnificentpalm, the Cuban plant symbol, stands out though its single straighttrunk (of up to 40 m in height and a diameter of about 60-70 cm),slightly ringed, with a white-grayish colour, and frequently displayinga bulge lengthwise. Its pale green leaves have a length of between 3and 4 m, with the folioles distributed in different directions, therebyconferring on this palm a feathery aspect, in contrast to Roystoneaoleracea, of dark green colour and with folioles at only two levels.The inflorescences appear under the tip and give rise to many reddishseeds that are used in Cuba to fatten up pigs. The sturdy trunk is asource of planks for building, and it can withstand tropicalhurricanes. The genus Roystonea has more than 20 species distributedthroughout Central America and Mexico. Of swift growth, it needsexposure to the sun; therefore, it is frequently used for alignments instreets and avenues, but not for gardening interiors.
A gorgeous palm, with spectacular feathery leaves, it has a single slender and ringed trunk. It shows rapid growth, reaching up to 10 m in height. Its elegant arched leaves have a feathery aspect by the great amount of wide folioles arranged in several directions. It produces big racemes of great red-orange fruits that grow under the tip. This palm is rare in the wild; it grows in the Melville range (a dry and hot mountain area in Northeast Australia), and it adapts easily to cultivation in dry tropical and subtropical areas, where it prefers sunny exposures. Though it was only discovered in 1978, its use in gardening has increased in just a few years. If in illuminated interiors, it can be grown in pots.
ITEM 3 SUCCULENT PLANTS These plants can store water in their tissues, thereby being able to withstand climatic conditions of great aridity, quite usual in the regions where they thrive. Their main feature is the presence of leaves and/or stems swollen by their water contents, but they may also display other morphological traits that allow them to minimize water loss, such as the absence of leaves to reduce transpiration, a reduction in the number of stomas (the cells that allow transpiration), or the development of hairs or spines. Most succulent plants occur naturally in arid or semi-arid regions of the planet, and there are succulent species in more than different 50 plant families; notably, many of them have very similar morphologies despite their not being closely related, as a consequence of their convergent adaptation to similar environmental conditions. One of the best-known succulent families (also with a large number of species) is the Cactaceae (or cacti), which usually have spines. Practically all of them are native from the American continent, and they occur very frequently across Mexico and the south of the USA. Another remarkable family of succulent plants is the Euphorbiaceae, widespread in temperate areas of the planet. In the Canaries, they are represented by a large number of species, like the “Cardón” (Euphorbia canariensis) and the “Tabaiba” (Euphorbia balsamifera or E. lamarckii). Other widely-known succulents are the Agavaceae and the Aloaceae.

The genus Aloe contains more than 500 species of succulent perennial plants. Some of them (like Aloe vera) don’t have a trunk, other species have a single trunk (A. ferox and A. marlothii), and others are branched and may have a tree-like habit (like A. dichotoma). The leaves of most Aloe species form a rosette with big fleshy leaves, sharp and spiny at the edges. The flowers are tubular with gaudy colours ranging from yellow to orange and red. Aloe vera was introduced in America by the Spaniards, and it is widely cultivated to obtain medicinal and cosmetic products rich in aloine. The latex and gel extracted from Aloe vera each have different composition and properties. Legend has it that Cleopatra used Aloe vera as a treat to take care of her skin. Eating the whole plant is not advisable, as some parts are toxic.
This columnar cactus is the highest known, with trunks reaching 12-15 m or more in height and up to 1 m in diameter. It is branched at different heights and it bears some resemblance to the”Saguaro” (Carnegiea gigantea), which also boasts a big size (but less ribbing, 10 to 16), and branches off much nearer to the ground. Its big white and red flowers bloom in summer, they open during dusk and remain open till next day’s noon; they are pollinated by bats, birds and insects. Its fruits were eaten by the Baja California and Sonoran Indians, who eventually ground the seeds to make flour, and made a drink with the pulp of the fruit. The stems were used as beams for building cabins. This cactus is an archetypal species of desert scrubs, but the outburst of a drilling insect (Scyphophorus acupunctatus) is presently threatening its wild populations.
This endemic from the Canary Islands is one of the archetypal plants from Gran Canaria, and it grows in dry lowlands of the archipelago. Its many fleshy vertical stems with numerous branches, that feature 4 or 5 sides and thorns arranged in rows, make it easily mistakable for a cactus. Though they are normally between 3-4 m in height, they may reach 10 m and cover more than 100 m 2 . The flowers give rise to red or brown capsular fruits (tricoccas) which explode and expel their seeds when ripe, thereby favouring their dispersal. It holds a great ornamental interest and it has very scarce hydric requirements. Like most Euphorbia species, it produces a toxic latex that was used by the aborigines to “envarbascar”, i.e. to bewilder fish by throwing several broken branches in coastal ponds, making it much easier for fishermen to catch them; more re - cently, people threw branches in irrigation ditches to disinfect the soils where tomatoes were cultivated in order to fight pests, especially nematodes. The dry ‘cardón’ burns well, which almost brought about its disappearance from Lanza - rote island, where wood was once scarce.
Neither a palm nor a cactus, this spectacular plant grows in dry fo - rests or in totally sunny exposures in the South and Southwest of Ma - dagascar. Its distinctively branched trunk bristles with thorns grou - ped in sets of three, it is wider at the base (pachy = wide; podium = foot), and it may reach 8 m in height. Its elongated leaves measure up to 40 cm in length, they are of dark green colour, and they form plumes at the tip of the trunks. The highly valued flowers are white with a yellow core. Like all the Pachypodium species, all the parts of the plant are toxic, so that some of them have been used to poison arrow tips. It adapts easily to cultivation, but it is necessary to greatly reduce (or avoid) irrigation in winter, when the plant is in vegetative rest and it loses all leaves, especially when the temperature is under 15 degrees.
ITEM 4 THE CYCADS The Cycads make up a very ancient group of plants related to the Conifers. Although their leaves are similar to those of palms, they are unrelated to these. In past geological ages they were widespread across the planet and they were very important as a food source for herbivore dinosaurs, but nowadays they only live in narrow temperate areas, and many of their species are endangered with extinction. There are more than 300 cycad species, distributed in two families (Cicadaceae and Zamiaceae) and about ten genera (Cycas, Macrozamia, Zamia, Encephalartos, Diion, Lepidozamia, Microcycas, Bowenia, Stangeria and Ceratozamia). The stems of the cycads may reach 18 - 20 meters of height (Microcycas), their leaves are pinate, and they form a spiral that coils around the stem’s apex. Such stems have an extremely slow growth. Their reproductive structures (strobila) have a characteristic conic shape, and the seeds are usually bright and colourful. All the Cycads are dioecious (a plant can be either masculine or feminine). The stems and seeds of many Cycad species are rich in starch. However, they contain large amounts of alcaloids that are toxic when raw, so that they have to be destroyed before human consumption. The Australian and Papua natives master methods to extract them and use them as a source of starch (known as Sago) in their diet.

Plant resembling a palm of up to 4-5 m in height, whose beauty and uncou - thness have spread its cultivation across all warm areas of the planet. Its dark green leaves, with rigid folioles of up to 3 m in length, are arranged in a rosette on top of the thick cilyndric stems, which are covered with scales arranged as in a suit of armor. The flowers are cones (open in the females, closed in the males). It has large walnut shaped seeds. It is a poisonous plant just like all those within its family. However, its seeds and trunk are edible, provided they are toasted or cooked and then ground to obtain a kind of flour. The leaves have a high nitrogen contents and they are used as a fertilizer in Japan. It grows slowly and it is of easy cultivation, but since some years ago it has been undergoing the attack of a woodlouse-like in - sect (Aulacaspis yasumatsui) that may even kill the plant if not treated, and that brought about important economic losses in the USA.
This Cycad may become a small tree of up to 10 m in height with a trunk of up to 40 cm in diameter. Its stem is gray, and it branches more frequently than C. revoluta. Its long, bright-green leaves (1.5- 2.5 m) grow in rosettes at the tip of the stems. The cone or male strobilum has an orange colour and a lengthened shape of about 30 to 60 cm, and it gives off a bad smell. The female cone of ca 30cm in length is brown and hairy. The seeds are green, orange or reddish. It is a tropical species that grows in limestone soils near the coast. It is a toxic ‘living fossil’, and its stems and seeds (rich in starch) are transformed into flour that is subsequently toasted in order to be suitable for human consumption.
Long-living plant resembling a fern or a small palm, it rarely surpasses 2 m in height. It is a plant with a very slow growth. It grows in semi-arid zones of Mexico, and it is an example of sturdyness: the adults resist severe dryness and fires. However, both deforestation and over-collection for ornamental purposes pose clear risks to the survival of its wild populations. Its leaves have a short petiole and bright green colour that differentiate it from the remaining Dioon species which, when adult, lack thorns in their narrow folioles (that may live up to 2 years). The seeds are big, similar to those of Cycas, and they give a high-quality starch, frequently used during spells of famine.
This Cycadaceae may reach 2-3 m in height, it grows under trees or in dunes near the coasts in New South Wales, where they can reach such high densities that almost impede walking among them. It usually inhabits sandy areas where the trunk grows underground. However, in shallow soils, the trunk emerges and it may reach up to 2 m in height. The elegant pinnate leaves reach up to 2 m in length, and they grow in beautiful rosettes. Since it is dioecious (like all Cicadaceae), there are male and female plants that feature cones of quite large sizes. The seeds are orange or reddish, and they are eaten by kangaroos and possums. It adapts very well to cultivation, even in pots; it prefers temperate or sub-tropical climates but it may withstand temperatures below-zero. It prefers a partially shadowy exposure, but it also adapts to sunny exposures provided it gets enough water.
ITEM 5 PLANTAONS HELICONIAS AND STERLITZIAS This group of herbaceous monocots were grouped within the family Musaceae, but they currently belong to a different family each, within the order of the Zingiberales.

1. PLANTAINS. (Musaceae): Well known by their fruits, there are more than 40 recognized species. They are herbaceous plants of up to nine meters in height that occur naturally in tropical and sub-tropical zones. They have a rhizome that gives birth to a false trunk with big long leaves. After some months, the inflorescence at the tip of this trunk produces the fruits, it dies, and it is replaced by a new bud. Cultivated varieties come from a hybrid between two species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. Such cultivars can be divided into two groups, depending on whether their fruits can be eaten fresh (bananas) or they need previous cooking because of their much higher starch contents (plantains).

2. HELICONIAS.(Heliconiaceae): This group is made up by more than 100 species in tropical areas from South America, Central America, Pacific and Indonesia. They are herbaceous plants reaching between 1 and 7 m. In height. The inflorescences have bracteae of flashy colours (red, yellow, orange, pinkish) that grow alternately at both sides of the peduncle, and within which small flowers develop. The nectar attracts hummingbirds, that act as pollinators.

3. STERLITZIAS AND RAVENALAS. (Sterlitziaceae): These herbaceous plants are originary from tropical and subtropical regions from America and Africa. The family consists of 3 genera, within which Strerlitzia (with 5 species native from South Africa) and Ravenala (with a single species, R. madagascarensis, native from Madagascar) are especially remarkable.


A herbaceous plant that may reach 4 m in height. Its leaves remind one of a plaintain tree and it reachs up to 1.5-2 m in length. The inflorescences are erect and the bracts, red with yellow or green edges, that contain flowers of white and greenish colour. The flower of this Heliconia is oriented upwards, and when it rains the bracts get filled with water which is drunk by insects and birds. The fruits are drupes of ca 1.5 cm in length. It is an ornamental plant, frequently cultivated, and with many commercial varieties. The flower is used as cut flower, since it lasts up to 20 days after detachment from the plant. It needs fertile soils and a warm and humid climate for a proper development. In its natural habitats, it is pollinated by bats and hummingbirds. The leaves are used in many regional dishes, wrapping ‘tamales’ and ‘juanes’.
The plaintains can be divided in two groups: those whose fruits can be eaten fresh, and those whose fruits are rich in starch and require cooking before human consumption. In the Canaries, banana trees are cultivated for fresh consumption, and all of them correspond to the species Musa acuminata, known as Musa Cavendish (Cavendish group). The plaintains are herba - ceous plants with powerful rhizomes that give rise to stems with leaves. The stems die after producing a raceme of fruits at the tip, and they are replaced by a new stem that emerges from the subterranean rhizome. The cultivation of the banana-tree was started in the Canaries by Portuguese colonizers du - ring the ages of the conquest, and it has been by far the most important cultivar in the archipelago for the last two centuries. Its high demands of water (of increasingly difficult availability in the islands), together with the competence of American bananas, represent serious drawbacks for its cultivation in the Canaries.
This herbaceous arborescent plant has a spectacular appearance that may reach up to 10-30 m in height when adult. Its leaves are up to 4 m in length and they are arranged in a fan-like fashion at the same level, which confers on it a striking appearance. The flowers form in the leaf axillas and are pollinated by birds; the flowers open briskly when they notice the contact of the birds that come to seek the nectar and get impregnated by the pollen, which they carry to other plants. The leaves are used to cover roofs, and both the young leaves and the seeds (rich in starch) are edible. Its name comes from its capacity to keep rain water in the base of the leaves, thus providing water for tired travellers. In the gardens of the Hotel Cordial Mogán Playa we have checked its remarkable resistance to the attack of the white fly in comparison with the other species of Musaceae. This plant is part of the Madagascar national banner.
This is a herbaceous perennial plant with no trunk, of up to 1.5 m in height, with a strong rhizome and leaves that remind one of the plaintain. The inflorescences emerge from the sheath-like structu - res that the leaves form. Its large flowers have a highly distinctive shape and three outer petals, lanceolate and narrow, of an orange colour. Only two of the inner petals are developed; they seem to be merged and they form a blue, arrow-like structure that contains the five stamens and the pistil. The fruits are capsulae and contain many seeds. The species is native to the KwaZulu-Natal province in Southafrica, where it is considered so precious that in many tribes its use is restricted to decorate the leader’s (or the shaman’s) cabin. Strelitizia reginae may live up to 100 years, and the beauty of its flower is the reason that its cultivation is widespread across all the tropical and subtropical areas of the planet. It is an uncouth species that requires temperatures of more than 10º C and a sunny exposure for blooming.
ITEM 4 CANARIAN FLORA More than 1800 plant species grow in the Canaries, of which ca. 555 are endemic. Such high number of endemics is due (among other factors) to isolation, a high ecosystem diversity and a rugged geography. In Gran Canaria we can find five of the six Canarian ecosystems. COASTAL OR LITTORAL ZONE. In the waterfront, the vegetation is adapted to a high environmental and soil salinity, as well as to a scarce rainfall and high temperatures. CARDONAL-TABAIBAL OR LOWLAND SCRUB. In the low elevations of the islands (and up to 400 m in the north and 800 m in the south), lush communities of shrubs and small trees grow in a vegetation type known locally as the “Cardonal-Tabaibal” (basically made up by different Euphorbia species), which is adapted to dryness, high solar radiation and poor soils. THERMOPHYLLOUS FOREST. Situated above the Cardonal-Tabaibal between 200 and 600 m, there lies this open forest with just a few tree species. This area is more humid and has better soils than the Cardonal-Tabaibal. This vegetation type encompasses outstanding formations like the palm forests (Phoenix canariensis), olive forests (Olea cerasiformis), “lentiscal” forests (Pistacia lentiscus) and dragon tree forests (Dracaena draco). MONTEVERDE (LAUREL FOREST AND FAYAL-BREZAL). This is a subtropcial forest type that lies between 600 and 1200 m of height in the North of the highest islands, under the influence of NE trade winds. Almost 20 tree species grow in this vegetation type, apart from numerous shrubs. PINE FOREST. Above the Monteverde and the sea of clouds the environment is drier, with higher amounts of sunshine and more extreme temperatures, with occasional snow in winter. The Canarian pine forests reach height of 2000 m. This vegetation type makes up a poorer ecosystem, with an almost exclusive tree species, the Canarian pine (Pinus canariensis), and a few shrubs and sub-shrubs.

Characteristic plant of the Canary Islands, it is endangered in its natural habitat with less than 700 specimens known, but cultivated in gardens all around the world. It is a monocot of up to 12 m in height whose grayish stem bran - ches after each blooming (that happens once every 12-15 years). The leaves are flat with reddish edges and up to 1 m in length. The fruits are globular and red-orange. Their growth is very slow, and the largest specimen known is the famous dragon tree from Icod de los Vinos in Tenerife, with an estimated age of several centuries. The dragon tree from Pino Santo (Santa Brígida) is the largest in Gran Canaria. Its Latin name means “dragon”, and its sap (known as “blood”) was used as a medicine to stop hemorrhages, and as a stain for paints and sealing waxes. The Canarian aborigines used it to preserve their mummies, they made shields with its bark, and they even made ropes with its leaves as well as eating its fruits.
This species is endangered with extinction and it grows exclusively on cliffs in the Southwest of Gran Canaria, very near Mogán. Its po - pulations were known since 1970s, but the practically unaccessible 76 individuals censused in the wild were assumed to belong to Dracaena draco; however, in 1999 it was realized they were indeed quite different from D. draco, and ascribed to a new species. It is a tree-like plant of 6 to 10 m in height with a sturdy trunk of a yellow-silvery colour that branches after each blooming (every 10 years or more). Unlike Dracaena draco, its leaves are grayish green, channe - led and more rigid and longer, forming much denser rosettes. Due to its recent discovery, the few specimens in gardens are quite young, so we don’t know much about its cultivation. However, it seems that continuous watering may damage it. At the Hotel Cordial Mogán Playa three small specimens grow that were donated by the Jardín Botánico “Viera y Clavijo”.

This plant is an endemic from Gran Canaria with a widespread distribution over almost all this island (a “purpuriense” subspecies is described in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura), except for the areas in the north that consitute potential habitats of the laurel forest, and where the “Blue tajinaste” (E. callithyrsum) predominates. It coexists in the south of the island with the “Black taginaste” (E. onosmaeifolium). It is a branched shrub of up to 2.5 m in height with small hairs on the underside of the leaves, which make them rough. Its white flowers have blue or purple lines, and they are arranged in big conic inflorescences of remarkable beauty in spring and, sometimes, autumn. Its cultivation is vey easy, and it allows pruning. Remarkably, its flowers are a refuge for the small insect Orius laevigatus, which feeds on its pollen but also on insects (like the trips) that harm the plants in cultivation, which may be an extra reason to promote its introduction in gardens.
A big shrub or small tree of up to 4 m in height. The popular name “blood stick” refers to its stems and young leaves, of a reddish colour. The trunk is rough and scaly, and the leaves have small green-bluish folioles arranged in rosettes. It is a dioecious plant, and the female inflorescences resemble red-purplish sprigs. The fruits are winged samaras, which facilitates dispersal. It is extremely rare in the wild, especially in Gran Canaria, where it grows in hardly accessible areas of a few enclaves like Guayadeque or Tejeda’s ravine. It is an extremely beautiful plant with a high ornamental beauty, and of easy cultivation. In Guayadeque, it undergoes severe grazing by herbivores. The infusion of its roots and stems has astringent and scar-healing properties.
ITEM 7 TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL TREES Ornamental trees can be perennial and deciduous. However, most trees in wet and rainy tropical or subtropical zones are perennial, due to the absence of seasonality that makes it unnecessary to get rid of the leaves. This fact allows them to boast their foliage all year round and, occasionally, flowering may last many months (even extending to winter, like Gabon’s Tuliper, Spathodea campanulata). Other species release the leaves during a short time in the dry season to reduce transpiration, like the Flamboyan (Delonix regia) or the Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosaefolia). The most frequent families in the tropical ornamental trees are the Fabaceae, Caesalpiniaceae, Bignoniaceae, Myrtaceae (Eucaliptus), Moraceae (Ficus), etc. Many tropical trees often develop thick columnar trunks and a big sized crown. Many trees from less rainy areas have a powerful root system that may become a problem when they are used in gardening. Some have aerial roots like the Ficus and other rainforest species. An exclusive trait of some tropical trees is the production of fruits attached to the trunk (like the cocoa tree) to facilitate the access to big sized birds and bats that are their pollinators. Whilst the conifers are one of the most usual families in temperate latitudes, they are practically inexistent in the tropics.

With more than 200 known species, genus Bauhinia is widespread throughout the tropics, Asia, America and Africa. Bauhinia variegata is a tree of about 6 to 10 m tall with a slender but very hard trunk. Its oddly shaped leaves have a bilobulated morphology that reminds one of a cow’s hoofprint, by which the Southamerican species are known as “cow’s legs”. The plant is deciduous for a short time. The flowers are pinkish to white, they have five petals, and they are quite attractive and appreciated; blooming lasts from autumn to spring. Hong Kong’s flag incorporates the five petals of Bauhinia blankeana. The fruits are woody legumes of up to 30 cm in length. It bears a high ornamental interest, especially for small gardens or for gardening narrow streets. In India, the young leaves and flower buds are used for human consumption, and some Bauhinia species have applications in the control of diabetes because they reduce blood sugar levels.
The genus Callistemon encompasses more than 25 shrubs or small trees native from Australia and Tasmania that are quite unique by their distinctive flowers. Callistemon viminalis is a small perennial tree that grows on Australias northeastern coast where it reaches 8-10 m in height. It may have one or several trunks with a thick cracked bark and an irregular top with many hanging thighs that confer on it a distinctive aspect of a pendulum. The leaves, alternated and petiolated, are reddish when they bud off and they turn green afterwards. The leaf glands give off a smell that reminds that of eucalyptus. Its red flowers group along a hanging sprig that keeps producing leaves at its tip. The fruits are very hard woody capsulae that take many years to open, because they are resprouters (i.e. they are adapted to the usual fires in the Australian savannas, after which they open up and release their seeds).
This magnificent tree of between 8 and 15 m in height has an umbrella-like top that makes it a perfect shade tree. Its blooming is lush and spectacular, making it one of the five most beautiful flower trees in the world. Therefore, despite being endangered in its natural habitats of the dry Madagascar forests, it is widely cultivated in the Tropics. Its leaves, composed and bipinnate, are deciduous during winter in the Canaries (during the dry season in Madagascar). The flowers have five petals (four red and one with white or yellow spots), and long, conspicuous stamens. In the Canaries it blooms between June and August. There are varieties boasting orange and yellow flowers. The roots are aggressive and they need a lot of space. The fruits are elongated woody pods of up to 60 cm that are used in the Caribbean as musical instruments or maracas. It is very demanding in terms of temperature, and in Spain it grows well only in the Canaries, where it doesn’t bloom above certain heights. One of the biggest flamboyans known in the Canaries grows in the neighboring Veneguera ravine.
This is one of the most interesting trees because of its delicate leaves and its remarkable purple-bluish flowers. It is deciduous, of rapid growth and with a globose top. On average, it measures 8 to 10 m in height, though it may reach 25 m. The long bipinnate, opposed leaves have a feathery aspect, they grow in low densities, and their resemblance with the leaves of the mimosas gives the plant its specific epithet. The flowers are bell-shaped, of a purple to blue colour, and they group in dense sprigs that cover the whole tree. It has a first blooming in spring, more intense and spectacular, that happens just before (or synchronously to) the generation of leaves. When the flowers fall to the ground, they create a striking carpet effect. There may be a second blooming at the start of autumn. The fruits are woody capsules with winged seeds. Its wood is highly appreciated for its creamy and pink undertones, and it is used in the making of furniture, and in the interior decoration of luxury cars. It is a highly enduring tree suitable for alignments, streets and parks. It demands a warm climate, without frosts.
This semi-deciduous tree of swift growth may reach 18 m in height and 20 m in width. The leaves are imparipinnate. The flowers have a red-purle colour with yellow spots, they hang from long peduncles, and they usually open at night. The fruits represent its most distinctive feature, since they have the shape of a big-sized sausage, reaching 80 cm in length and a weight of 10 kg; therefore, they may be dangerous when they fall, and the sites for its cultivation have to be chosen carefully. The roots are very sturdy and they may damage pavements and building foundations. The fruits have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties for the skin, and they are used in the cosmetic industry. Women from the south of Africa have used them for many centuries as a firming cream for their faces and breasts. However, they are toxic when green, and not edible at any stage of development. The hollow trunk is also used as a canoe.
This small tree reaches 8 m in height and it has a rounded shape with an open, lightly dense foliage that may be deciduous in winter. It is native to the Caribbean, though widely cultivated in the tropics due to its quirky aspect and beautiful blooming (especially in Asia, where it has become a frequent plant in Buddhist and Hinduist shrines). The leaves are elongated, whole and of a dark green colour, of 20 to 40 cm in length, and they grow at the tips of the branches. The trunks and branches are thin and fragile but they admit pruning, which has to be carried out at the end of winter. Its noteworthy flowers, white with a yellow core, are formed by five petals and release an extremely pleasant and intense odour. Blooming takes place between spring and mid-autumn. This species requires exposure to the sun for a good development and a lush blooming. Its toxic latex has some medicinal uses as a purgative, or to burn warts. Its growth is fast and the roots are not aggressive.
This is one of the most beautiful tropical trees because of its large and abundant red flowers. Its cultivation has spread throughout the tropical areas of the world and in Spain it can be cultivated only in the Canaries as it is sensitive to cold and it loses its leaves when temperatures are lower than 8º C. Its rapid growth and easy reproduction make it an invasive plant in some regions where it has been introduced. Its wood, whitish and light, does not burn easily. The leaves are pinnate and grow up to 70 cm of length. Its bell-shaped flowers, red with a yellow edge and grouped in racemes, can reach 7 cm of length. It blooms from spring to early autumn in the Canaries. The water that the flowers contain before opening is drunk by many birds. The fruits are pods of up to 10 cm. It is mainly ornamental being quite suitable as a shade tree, by which it has been used to project shade on to coffee fields.
ITEM 8 TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL SCHRUBS There is a great variety of tropical and subtropical shrubs used in gardening, owing to their spectacular and long-lasting blooming. Most of them are attractive by their flowers alone, but in some cases the leaf colours are highly appreciated as well, like in Codiaeum crotom (Crotos) whose varieties boast leaves of different shapes and colours, or the different varieties of Acalipha wilkessiana, with leaf colours ranging from red to yellow. Many of these shrubs were brought to Europe as a consequence of the great maritime explorations developed from the XVth century on, and they were cultivated in the greenhouses of European botanic gardens or in gardens of the overseas colonies, where a process of genetic selection and impro - vement was carried out that gave birth after several years to many varieties, such as Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (the hibiscus) with more than 200 flower va - rieties. Many subtropical shrubs and trees have a pan-tropical distribution; i.e. they were carried long ago from their native habitats to other regions where they acclimated and naturalized, even making part of the landscape, as in the case of Ixora coccinea in Thailand, Plumeria alba and P. rubra in Bali, or the hibiscus, native from the south of China and widespread across the tropics adn subtropics. Other such shrubby species have even become invasives as the Lantana, which invades many areas of America despite its being native from South America. Many of these flowers are used in traditional ceremonies; for instance, in Hawaii women usually wear a gardenia, hibiscus or plumeria flower in their hair, although none of these species is native from these islands.

This woody climbing plant that may reach 4-6 m in height is native to tropical America, but it is widely cultivated in all the Tropics. Its stems do not coil thereby needing a foundation to rely on before climbing. It can be given the form of a shrub by pruning. Its leaves are opposed, whole, coriaceous and oblong, of a dark green colour and bright on the top. The hermafrodite flowers group in terminal tops, and they have a yellow corolla with five lobes and interior groo - ves. The flower, that releases a very pleasant smell, reaches 8 cm in diameter. Blooming lasts almost a whole year and its full intensity occurs from spring to autumn. The fruits are globose, thorny capsulae. It demands a sunny exposure for good development and blooming and it resists drought but not cold. Its white latex is toxic like the rest of the plant, which boasts purgative properties as its name“cathartica” indicates; for such reason, it is used as a medicinal plant in some areas of South America.
There are about 14 species of bougainvillea from South America, but only three or four of them are cultivated as ornamental, among them B. spectabilis and B. glabra. Bougainvillea spectabilis is a climbing species, woody, perennial and thorny, with pubescent branches that may reach 10 m in height if they have a foundation to rely on; not having tendrils to climb, it uses its thorns. The lea - ves, of up to 12 cm in length, are alternate, ovate and tomentous on the back. The true flowers are tubular, very small, inconspicuous, without a corolla and grouped in threes; they are surrounded by three bracts (i.e. modified leaves) of very intense and diverse colours that resemble flowers. The colours of such false flowers are usually pink, white, red and/or orange. It is a quite enduring species that withstands drought when adult. It requires sunny exposures and it has a rapid growth. In Mexico, its leaves and flowers are used in infusion to relieve a cough and against bronchitis; it also has antibiotic properties to fight Staphylococcus aureus.
This perennial shrub may reach up to 5 m in height when cultivated. It has oval, toothed leaves of up to 15 cm of length. Its spectacular flowers were originally red but nowadays we find cultivated varie - ties with many diverse flower colours like pink, yellow, mauve and a range of oranges. The flowers, from 12 to 20 cm of diameter, are usually single and they have five petals, but in some varieties they are demi-double or double. The flowers only last one day, but they appear frequently all year round in warm areas, and only in spring and summer in temperate zones. Its fruits are capsules. It is the na - tional plant of Malaysia, and it appears on the badges of many re - gions, like Hawaii. It is one of the most widely cultivated ornamentals and it has a large number of commercial varieties. In Hawaii it is used to make welcome necklaces. It has many medicinal applications, to fight e.g. cough, bronchitis, fever, gastritis, hair loss, or high blood pressure; however, it is slightly toxic.
This tropical shrub of up to 1 - 2 m in height belongs to a genus with more than 400 species native to tropical areas in Africa, Asia, and islands of the Pacific Ocean. The leaves are whole, opposed, ovate, hard, bright and of 7 to 10 cm in length. The small flowers have an intense red colour and they group in umbels with more than 20 flowers. The corolla has four pointy lobes arranged in a crosslike fashion. At present, there are varieties with pink, orange and yellow flowers and also dwarfic varieties. It is often used to build hedges and it is frequently cultivated in the Tropics. It is very demanding in terms of temperatu - re, and it tends to yellow below 15º C. It requires sunny exposures, abundant watering and acidic soils to achieve a good blooming. Alkaline soils beget iron deficiencies and a yellowing of the leaves. It is sensitive to the attacks of plant louses in young buds.
ITEM 9 FRUIT TREES FROM TROPICAL AND TEMPERATE REGIONS Tropical fruit trees grow in the regions between tropics, though many of them develop optimally in subtropical climates farther from the equator, where the average temperature does not go below 18° and where it does not freeze. They usually have perennial leaves and they do not have a winter rest, so they grow all year round. Among these trees we can cite the avocado (Persea americana), the papaya (Carica papaya), the banana (Musa x paradisiaca), the guava (Psidium guajava), the custard apple (Annona cherimola), the litchi (Litchi chinensis), etc. They demand lots of water and nutrients, and their fruits usually have remarkable nutritional properties and tangy flavours, so they are highly valued worldwide. Although the Canary Islands lie north of the tropical zone, many of these fruits thrive in our climate, especially in protected areas of low altitude like Mogán valley; some varieties of avocado grow well even at altitudes higher than 800 meters. Other fruit trees from subtropical areas that are successfully cultivated in the Canaries are the citrus trees, most of them from Asia (lemon tree, orange tree, tangerine tree, lime tree and pomegranate tree); and also trees from temperate areas like the olive tree (Olea europea), the louquat (Eryobotria japonica), the khaki (Diospyros kaki), the pomegranate (Punica granatum), and the fig tree (Ficus carica).

This perennial tree of rapid growth may reach 10 m in height. The leaves are alternate, ovate and of a bright green colour. The flowers, of up to 4 cm in length, are yellowish green and they can be either axillar or grow at any place along the trunk and bran - ches. The fruit has to be collected a bit before its total maturity and allowed to ripen afterwards, because if it ripes on the tree it may fall to the ground and be damaged. The consumption of its slightly acidic juice is more frequent than eating it as a fresh fruit, owing to its high contents in fibre. The fruit has a green colour, it contains a great amount of seeds, and its surface is covered with prickles. This fruit has become popular because of its supposed cancer-fighting properties, but we are currently at a loss of rigorous studies in this respect, feasibly because it is not possible to register a patent for a plant species. Such supposed medicinal properties are attributed to the tea made with its leaves, a part of the plant which can reach very high prices for this reason. Furthermore, the fruit has a very high content of vitamins B and C.
This deciduous tree of twisted trunks with a grey bark may reach between 5 and 10 m in height, and it sometimes starts branching off from the ground. The top is dense and round. Leaves alternate, with 3 to 5 lobes and ondulated margins of up to 30 cm, and with a rough texture by the hairs that cover it, and a matt green colour. The flowers are unisexual, and there are monoecious and dioecious varieties. The fig tree produces a white, irritant latex. What we know is the fruit is in fact a soft infrutescence of sweet flavour, whose fleshy red interior hosts the small true fuits, which resemble seeds. There are two groups of cultivated fig trees, depending on whether they give one or two fruit kinds per year. The re-fruiting fig trees or “brevas” give fruits of a larger size in June-July (called “brevas”), and another crop of smaller “higos” (figs) from August to October. The “common” fig trees only give fruits in August and September. The fig tree is one of the first species cultivated by mankind and it is consumed either fresh or sun-dessicated. The popular belief is that the fig trees were introduced in the Canaries by sailors from Majorca several centuries before the conquest, and that they were an important food source for the aborigines.
Tree of between 6 and 8 m in height with a trunk that branches off only rarely, with soft wood and a crest of leaves at the tip. Although it is native of Central America and Mexico, It is cultivated in all the tropics, especially Asia. The palmate leaves of up to 70 cm in width, have 7 lobes and hang at the extreme of a long peduncle. There are plants with male, female and hermaphroditic flowers that give rise to different fruits. To warrant fertilization, one male plant must be planted per each 25 female plants. The fruits are berries with green, yellow or orange skin, and a fleshy interior of a yellow-reddish colour; they can have different shapes and may weigh up to 9 kg, though the commercial varieties usually have smaller fruits, of between 500 and 1000 g. The papaya tree grows rapidly and it does not tolerate low temperatures, a sunny exposure being very important for its growth. In the Canaries it is cultivated commercially, especially within greenhouses that improve climatic conditions and prevent the entry of insects that may transmit viral maladies. The papaya is a highly digestive fruit due to the presence of the papaine, a proteolithic alkaloid.
Perennial tree of up to 4-6 m in height with rounded, dense top, and a grey bark. Leaves alternate, of 15-25 cm of length, oblanceolate, coriaceous, with dentate edges and pu - bescent when young. The adult leaves are dark green on the upper side and pubescent on the underside. Its white flowers, fragrant, of about 1.7 cm in diameter, are arranged in terminal paniculae. They have five petals, and the calix and the peduncles are tomen - tous. The calix persists in the fruit. This tree blooms in December-January. Its yellowish, globose fruits of 3-5 cm in length are edible, and they contain 2-4 elongated seeds of a brown colour. The pulp is a bit acidic, yellow and has a of pleasant smell. It ripes in May-June. It is a nutrient-poor fruit that contains a low number of calories, by which it may be used to lose weight. This species is not very demanding agronomically: it resists cold and dryness, and it adapts well to different soil types. To obtain a commercially interesting fruit production, fertilizing and pruning are mandatory.
Some specimens of this perennial tree may have ages of hundreds of years, but they aren’t usually higher than 10 m. This species has a wide and thick top, and a twisted trunk with a grey, cracked bark. The leaves are perennial and coriaceous, of a greyish-green colour in the above side, and silvery on the underside. The flowers are white and of a pleasant odour, forming racemes in the leaf’s axillas. It blooms in mid spring and by autumn the first fruits (the olives) appear, of a green colour that turns into dark-violet when they ripen. Such fruits may be rounded or ovate, big or small, depending on the species. In Spain about 300 varieties are cultivated (e.g. picudo, empeltre, hojiblanca, cornicabra, manzanilla, verdial or picual). The oil extracted (and the olives themselves) have many uses in cooking, and they are paramount elements of the Mediterranean diet. The olive tree thrives better in warm and sunny locations, adapting to poor soils, and resisting cold. It is an archetypal tree in the Mediterranean culture, and its name derives from the Latin “oleum”, that means “oil”. In the Canaries, the ‘Acebuche’ (Olea cerasiformis) grows, that produces smaller fruits from which the “acebuchina oil” is extracted; the olive tree can be grafted on the ‘Acebuche’. Temisas and Santa Lucía in Gran Canaria are olive tree areas, and they have a small oil production.
This perennial tree with a dense top may reach up to 25 m in height. It has a thick trunk with a blackish bark that contains a resin-like latex. The leaves are alternate, simple, co - riaceous, oblong-lanceolate, of 20-30 cm of length and of a dark green colour. Flowers are small, yellowish green to pinkish, forming pyramidal terminal inflorescences. The fruits are drupes of varying sizes and shapes, though generally ovoid-oblong, from 4 to 30 cm in length and featuring a green, yellowish-green or orange colour, even reddish when ripe. The fruit’s pulp is yellow or orange and juicy, with many fibers that are almost absent in the new varieties. The buds and new leaves have a red colour of great orna - mental interest. The cultivation of the mango tree is documented from more than 4000 years ago, and profusely cited in the ancient Indian literature. It requires high tempera - tures and, in the Canaries, its cultivation is advised under 400 m asl in the North of the islands and under 500 m asl in the South. It reproduces by seeds, and the varieties are grafted. It requieres fertile soils and warm climates. The fruit is eaten fresh and many jams and other sweet canned goods are elaborated with it.

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