The Teide National Park has a very special tree surviving over the centuries on top of its volcanic soils, even after volcanic eruptions: a Pine Tree that is fire resistant, yes you have read correctly! The Canarian Pine Tree is not exclusive to the Teide National Park but it differs from the normal Pine Tree we can find in the Mediterranean. Nowadays this species can be found in the islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, La Gomera and El Hierro.
¿Why is the Canarian Pine Tree different?
We have introduced you before to the endemic species we can find in the National Park and more in-depth to the precious Teide Violet or the curious Blue Lizard that lives in the rocky Cañadas del Teide. But we haven’t talked about the different trees we can find during our guided tour by night. To start with, ¿who would expect to find trees at 2.000m above the sea level in a volcanic landscape? Well, the only two actual trees that grow this high are the Canarian Pine Tree and the Canarian Cedar Tree, since all the other species are usually smaller bushes and flowers.
The Canarian Pine used to grow thousands of years ago in the Mediterranean Countries and was brought to the Islands by birds. After the extreme climate changes and glaciations that took place during the Quaternary period, these Pines were extinguished and only remained untouched in the Canarian Archipelago. The Canarian Pine Tree has three little needles in every leaf, instead of two, and the thick layer of cork that covers the trunk isolates the tree from heat and fire. It has also the ability to resurge from stems and the presence of a special tissue called ‘Parenchyma’ helps to recover the tree even after being burned. This ability is more common in leafy trees, being the Canarian Pine the only one of the conifer family with this attribute.
¿How do plants adapt to the hard weather conditions of the Teide Natural Park?
Apart from fire and lava, all the species living in Las Cañadas del Teide need to adapt to very harsh climatic conditions:
- Winds and scarce torrential rain
- Strong insolation
- Low humidity
- Strong temperature oscillations (over the day and over the seasons)
This is why the plant species living on top of Mount Teide share similar characteristics like being small and rounded to protect themselves from the wind and having small leaves to avoid water evaporation. A lot of these species also cover their leaves with little hairs to reduce the solar insolation and spread a big amount of seeds to ensure their reproduction in this conditions. The best season to visit the Teide National Park if you want to enjoy its trees and flowers in full bloom is, of course, during spring!