Laurel Forests of Las Mercedes


Ancient laurel forests
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Tenerife forests

High in the mountains

"If you go down to the woods," goes the old song but in Tenerife it's usually a case of going up to the ones here because they are usually high on the mountains. I had thought of going to the forests in Aguamansa but changed my mind because every time I have been there it has been shrouded in cloud.

A Tenerife field of ripening corn

But no Crop Circles in Tenerife

Ripening Corn
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Led by the nose on a wet walk in the mountains

To Las Mercedes

So, I decided I'd go further north and have a ramble in the wild woodlands of the Las Mercedes area - the only problem was the weather there was cloudy too as I soon found when I got off the bus from La Laguna.

Fields of Corn but no Crop Circles

I had taken the bus as far as the village of Las Mercedes and walked up the road into the mountains, stopping along the way to look at the fields of corn and maize. The corn looked ready for harvest and I got to thinking about how in the UK you always get mysterious crop circles in this type of field. I wondered if there had have ever been any here? We've had UFO reports in Tenerife, so how about some crop circles?

Grapes were doing well too and many houses in the pretty village of Las Mercedes have them growing in their front gardens - grape vines rambling with their green leaves over trellises and fences and bunches of fruit hanging down.

Agapanthus flowers

Baby Blue

Blue Agapanthus flowers on a roadside in Las Mercedes
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Flowers by the wayside

Blooms along the way

Along the roadside verge there were huge patches of the blue Common Agapanthus (Agapanthus orientalis) growing so much better than the ones further south. People may not like the rain and clouds we often get in the north of the island but the trees and flowers appreciate it as do the snails, and I found a whole batch of them on the top of a cactus. The looked as if they knew the spines would protect them from danger!

Snails on cactus

Tenerife snails

Tenerife snails clustering on a catcus
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews


Gum Trees

Further on I could smell the wonderful aroma of eucalyptus coming from the trunks of a large group of these tall Australian trees. There are enough growing on a Tenerife mountain to feed a colony of koala bears, I thought.

On the ground amongst the dead leaves were the woody seedpods and I can never resist picking these up and inhaling the lovely scent from the Eucalyptus resin.

Tree roots

On a forest trail

Tangled tree roots on a forest trail
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Forest trails

Woodland paths

I saw a sign for a forest trail to Cruz del Carmen and decided I would take it and leave the road behind. Local people were already having a barbecue in the woodland setting further down the track and the smell of the smoke and the cooking blended so well with the forest aromas of damp moss and resinous trees.

I walked on and stopped to admire a tangle of knotted roots hanging over a shaded bank, whilst down below was a gully of greenery and ferns. I was thinking what wonderful forest it was for a film set - a sword and sorcery movie or a medieval adventure perhaps?

I spotted some interesting plants in the woodland margin. There was a clump of the orange-red flowered Cresta de Gallo (Isoplexis canariensis) the Canary Islands version of the Foxglove, which like its British relative is used in herbal medicine for treating heart problems.

Canary Island Foxglove

Isoplexis canariensis

Canary Island Foxglove (Isoplexis canariensis)
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Balm of Gilead

A medicinal herb

The Balm of Gilead (Cedronella canariensis) with its pink flowers and incredible scent like a mixture of camphor and lemons if gently crushed was also to be seen. Also known as Té de Canarias (Tea of the Canaries) is perhaps not surprisingly a well known medicinal herb, used for coughs and colds, for the digestion and as an anti-depressant. For the last complaint, I can testify that it works, because just squashing a leaf and inhaling the amazing aroma brings an instant smile to my face!

Balm of Gilead

Medicinal herb

Balm of Gilead (Cedronella canariensis)
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Cruz del Carmen

Mountain and valley views

Eventually I hit the road again but the cloud had got much thicker and the slight drizzle was now become heavier. The mirador at Cruz del Carmen is a wonderful place for viewing the mountains and valley below but it wasn't going to be much good on a day like today was turning out.

So I made my way back downhill and passed another popular lookout point known as Jardina. On a clear day you can see for miles and view Mt Teide in the distance, as I know from past visits. On this occasion all I could see was swirling grey clouds and I hurried on down to the bus stop getting there just as the rains stopped my play in the green and forested mountains of the north.

Footnote: First published in the Tenerife Sun.

Copyright Steve Andrews 2012

In Tenerife North

Near the university city of La Laguna