Canary Islands juniper; Spanish: Cedro Canario (Ashmole and Ashmole 1989).
Section Juniperus. Closely allied to J. oxycedrus of the Mediterranean region, from which it differs in the larger tree size, more regular branching and often glaucous leaves. Also close to J. brevifolia of the Azores Is., which differs in shorter and even more glaucous leaves.
Tree previously recorded to 30 m (Dallimore et al. 1967), or shrub at high altitudes. Bark orange-brown, peeling in coarse vertical strings. Branches level, upcurved toward tips, with pendulous branchlets. Leaves in decussate whorls of three, subulate to acicular, 1-2 cm, green to glaucous on back, single narrow white stomatal bands either side of the midrib on the inner face. Dioecious, with male and female cones on different trees. Mature seed cones globose, 8-12 mm, green ripening orange-red c.18 months after pollination; with 1(2) whorls of 3 scales; seeds 3. (Frankis 1991, 1992).
Canary Islands: La Palma and Tenerife, at up to 2300 m elevation. Zone 9 (cold hardiness limit between -6.6°C and -1.1°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).
The largest and oldest surviving wild trees are on the cliffs of La Caldera de Taburiente National Park on La Palma island (Dallimore et al. 1967), but I do not have any details.
The very valuable timber was extensively harvested in the first 500 years of Spanish occupation of the Islands; now commercially extinct but replanting is in progress (Ashmole and Ashmole 1989).
Wild trees / large shrubs are easiest to see in Las Cañadas National Park, Tenerife, at La Fortaleza, a cliff on the NE part of the caldera wall of the dormant Teide volcano, an easy 4 km walk NW on a good path from the bus stop at El Portillo, the entrance to Las Cañadas NP (Ashmole and Ashmole 1989; Frankis 1991, 1992). This is a high altitude treeline population at 2100 m, with short glaucous leaves and small cones; some similar young trees are planted at 2080 m at the café at El Portillo (Frankis 1991, 1992). A plantation at Aguamansa, above Puerto de la Cruz at 1100 m altitude, planted c.1950, shows the potential of this species in the northern cloud belt; already about 15 m tall (a very fast growth rate for a Juniper) in 1991, they have telegraph-pole straight trunks to about 15-20 cm dbh, longer leaves to 2 cm and large (12 mm) cones (Frankis 1991).
The decline in this species, leading to its listing as endangered, was due to overharvesting for timber, and grazing by goats which prevented regeneration; both were stopped in 1950 since when it has been carefully protected. The wild populations which survived on remote cliffs are slowly expanding again, and artificial regeneration is also being used successfully.
A highly attractive species, well deserving of increased planting as an ornamental in mild areas.
Ashmole, M. and P. Ashmole 1989. Natural history excursions in Tenerife. Peebles: Kidston Mill Press.
Frankis, M.P. 1991.04. Field notes, Tenerife.
Frankis, M.P. 1992. Conifers of Tenerife. Conifer Society of Australia Newsletter 11: 5-7.
This page prepared by M.P. Frankis, 1999.03.
Farjon (2005) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.
Last Modified 2012-11-23