Friday, 21 March 2014

Exotica

Around the Maspalomas area, there were several municipal parks - I have already mentioned the one with the duck pond - and these parks were planted with some exotic trees and bushes. among the most exotic and most colourful were the Coral Trees (Erythrina variegata).
Another very colourful plant was to be found growing close to our path down to the dry river bed which led to the sea.  This feathery shrub was known as a Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii), not to be confused with the more 'normal' Bird of Paradise plants or Strelitzias.
Also growing in the parks and planted in hedges and borders elsewhere were the dramatic, blue flowered plants Limonium sventenii.  A member of the Sea Lavender family, these were rather more spectacular than the diminutive Sea Lavender which graces our coasts in the UK.
Some of the wild, native plants were equally - if differently - exotic.  One was to be found growing all over the sands of the Maspalomas dunes.  A low-growing annual plant, it sometimes goes by the common name of Camel plant, Neurada procumbens.  It has hard, spiky seed heads which are strong enough to stick into the soles of your shoes.  It is from these that the plants get their popular name of Camel Plant, as they tend to stick into the feet of passing camels and so spread around the deserts where it lives.
Close to these plants and growing in the shifting dunes were the tiny flowers of the Ononis serrata.  A member of the Pea family, its little, purple/blue flowers were about half an inch long.  Another desert specialist, it grows in hot, sandy parts of North Africa, Arabia, Iraq and the Eastern Mediterranean - as well as the Canary Islands.  Some idea of its size can be gained by comparing the size of the sand grains attached to the leaves in this picture.
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