Included here are the Canaries, a group of twelve volcanic islands situated in the eastern Atlantic. Among the largest from west to east are La Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote.

Canarian Xerophytic Scrub Zone

This zone occurs on the lower slopes of all the islands roughly from sea level to 700 m. It can be resolved into several plant communities, but stem and leaf succulents predominate throughout with species of Aeonium (Crassulaceae), Euphorbia (Euphorbiaceae) and the family Asteraceae being the most common. These include many endemic species such as Aeonium holochrysum, A. percarneum (Gran Canaria), Euphorbia balsamifera and asteroid shrubs such as Artemisia canariensis, Arygyranthemum filifolium (Gran Canaria), Carlina salicifolia, Senecio kleinia, and perennial herbs such as Onopordum nogalesii and Tolpis laciniata.  Endemic species of other families within this zone include shrubs of Hypericum canariensis (Hypericaceae), Parolinia intermedia (Brassicaceae), Salvia canariensis (Lamiaceae), and the woody perennial Paronychia canariensis (Caryophyllaceae). Other unusual shrubs representative of endemic genera found in this zone, and particularly associated with Euphorbia scrub, are the hemiparasitic, Ephedra-like Kunkeliella canariensis (Santalaceae), Noechamaelea pulverulenta (Cneoraceae), with its clothing of medifixed hairs (i.e. attached in the middle), and the strong-smelling Plocama pendula (Rubiaceae) with its pendulous branches.

Canarian Erica arborea Heath

At its upper limit the xerophytic zones gives way to a forest scrub zone of Erica arborea (tree heath) and Juniper phoenicea. Other common components are Myrica faya and the endemic Ilex canariensis (Aquifoliaceae). In some of the more exposed areas shrubs of Erica may be no more than 1 m high, but more typically it forms a dense forest scrub up to 12 m high. Other endemic species in this zone include tall shrubs of Teline stenopetala (Fabaceae).


Ashmole, M. & Ashmole, P. 1989. Natural History Excursions in Tenerife. Kidston Mill Press. Scotland.

Bramwell, D. 1971. The endemic flora of the Canary Islands: distribution, relationships and phytogeography. In: Biogeography and Ecology in the Canary Islands. Ed. C. Kunkel. Dr W. Junk Publishers. The Hague.

Bramwell, D. 1972. Endemism in the flora of the Canary Islands. In: Taxonomy, Phytogeography and Evolution. Ed. D. H. Valentine. Academic Press.

Brullo, C., Brullo, S., Marco, G. De., Galdo, G. G. D. & Guarino, R. 2008. A survey of thee orophilous shrubby vegetation of the Teide (Tenerife, Canary Islands). Feddes Repertorium, 119: 63-81.

Dupont, Y. L., Hansen, D. M. & Olesen, J. M. 2003. Structure of plant-flower-visitor network in the high-altitude sub-alpine desert of Tenerife, Canary Islands. Ecogeography, 26: 301-310.

Fernandez, A. et al. 2002. Garajonay La Gomera. Garajoney National Park.

Guerra, A. S. 1993. Dry coastal ecosystems of the Canary Islands and the Ilhas Selvagens. In: Ecosystems of the World 2B Dry Coastal Ecosystems  Africa, America, Asia and Oceania Ed. Eddy van der Marel. Elsevier.

Humphries, C. J. 1979. Endemism and Evolution in Macaronesia. In: Plants and Islands. Ed. D, Bramwell. Academic Press.

Kunkel, Por. G. 1971. Lista Revisada de los Pteridofitos de las Islas Canarias. Cvad. Bot. Canar. XIII: 21-46.

PĂ©rez, M. A. C. 2005. Native Flora of the Canary Islands. Everest.

Schmid, E. 1976. The Laurisilva of Hierro. In: Biogeography and Ecology in the Canary Islands. ed. C. Kunkel. Dr W. Junk Publishers. The Hague.

Sutton, M. 1976. Conservation of the fragile ecosystems in the Canary Islands. In: Biogeography and Ecology in the Canary Islands. Ed. C. Kunkel. Dr W. Junk Publishers. The Hague.

Sunding, P. 1972. The vegetation of Gran Canaria. Skrifter Utgitt av Det Norske Videnska-Akademi I Oslo I. Mat.-Naturv. Klasse. Ny Serie. No. 29.

Sunding, P. 1979. Origins of the Macaronesian Flora. In: Plants and Islands. Ed. D. Bramwell. Academic Press.