The flowers of the Canary Islands, Spain

Once upon a time... long ago...when I was a young flower spy, I saw a map of the world, and spotted a small cluster of dots off the coast of Spain and Africa called the Canary Islands. I thought they sounded most exotic and I promised myself that one day I would go there to see all the pretty canaries.

Years later, my wish came true by means of a birthday gift from a Spanish friend. A very small plane ride later, where dogs were on board without carriers, we arrived at our tropical destination, with a few howls thrown in for our listening pleasure.

The small island we landed on is called La Palma, and it is dominated by banana crops, black sand, and the strongest, roundest sun that never seems to set. Also known as La Isla Bonita (they aren't kidding with that nickname), La Palma was every bit of exotic as I had imagined. But there was something missing... I didn't see any cute, little birds fluttering about. Where were the canaries?

Not wanting to sound like la gringa estupida, I thought I should keep quiet and only voiced my concern to my travel buddy. He agreed, something was off about the name. However, being the wise Spaniard he was, he quickly realized the Canary Islands in Spanish, is Islas Canarias, which literally means islands of the dogs. Dogs?

I was confused, so after a visit to the tourism center, we learned it was as simple as the translation-- the islands were named after dogs due to a dense population of fierce, large canines, such as the Canary Mastiff. As far as my interpretation? Canary birds are just adorable, and really, doesn't it make sense? I suppose wanting an exotic vacation filled with colorful, flying wildlife was part of the problem for me as well. Pues, eso es la vida.

Once we got the name game clarified, it was time to get down to some serious flower spying. I kept a journal while we were there, and I documented over 325 varieties of flowers and plants that I recognized. However, most of the shots that were captured are of flowers I was not as familiar with. Some unfortunately, did not translate well on film (I did not bring my camera on this trip).

Seeing annual plants that were so vastly overgrown and exploding with color was not only exciting, it was intoxicating. I have never in my life seen geraniums growing as vines from window boxes, or lantana's as large as a small tree. For me, what really stood out on this magical island was the untamed beauty of a flower, and not a dog, or even a bird.

Locale: La Palma, Canary Islands

Flowers Shown: Eschscholzia Californica-a type of wildflower, Chalice Vine flower, lantana bush, a field of Adenocarpus Viscosus-wildflowers, Bougainvillea with hanging sedum, Plumbago, the I.F.S. holding a branch with lichen.

Photographs taken by the I.F.S. with the camera of Sr. Cruz


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