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Tenerife herbs: Canary Islands Candle Shrub/Senecio kleinia or Kleinia neriifolia

By Edited Oct 6, 2016 0 0
Canary Candle Shrub or Verol
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Verol or Verode

Canary Candle Shrub (Kleinia neriifolia) is a common sight growing both wild and cultivated for its ornamental quality in gardens, parks and flower borders. It is a succulent plant that can grow as high as 3 metres and forms small bushes. In many parts of Tenerife you will see it growing all over the place.

Canary Candle Shrub is also known asSenecio kleinia and is a member of the Compositae or Asteraceae family. In Spanish it is called Verol or Verode. Whilst it is exceedingly common in Tenerife, back in the UK I understand that it would be very expensive to buy a good pot-grown specimen.

Kleinia neriifolia and many other Canary Island wild flowers and herbs

Canary Candle Shrub grows wild all over Tenerife and on all of the other Canary Islands. It is found growing in dry rocky and semi-desert areas, as well as on waste ground and in coastal regions. Its seeds are distributed by the wind and born on fluffy hairs. It readily germinates in all sorts of places including walls and on cliffs.

Canary Candle Shrub has a trunk and succulent stems in jointed segments. These bear lance-shaped leaves in autumn, winter and spring, as well as umbel-like tufts of yellow flowers. There are no other plants on the island anything like them so they are easy to recognise.

After flowering and setting seed the plant tends to drop its leaves and aestivate over the hot summer months. Its bare succulent stems are often carried in a candelabra-shaped bush and give rise to its name of Candle Shrub. This seems very apt for Tenerife which being an island with very many Catholics on it already has lots of wax candles being lit and used for religious devotional purposes.

Other related succulent species of Kleina are often grown by collectors of cacti and succulent plants. They are very popular because of their unusual appearance. K. articulata or Senecio articulatus is one of the most-cultivated plants in this family. It has jointed succulent stems too and is known as the Hot Dog Cactus or Candle Plant.

Canary Spurge or Cardon
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Medicinal properties of the Canary Candle Shrub

Canary Candle Shrub has wound healing properties. Its fleshy stems are cut open and applied directly over any wounded part of the body or bound in place. The stems can also be crushed to make the juice ooze out and then used as a poultice.

Canary Candle Shrub has anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties too. In traditional Canary Island folk medicine it has been used as an antidote for the burns caused by the latex of species in the Euphorbia family such as the succulent cacti-form Canary Spurge or Cardón (Euphorbia canariensis). This Canary Spurge is a very common plant too and it is fascinating to find that the two species are often found growing alongside one another. The one can cause a problem and the other provides the remedy.

Canary Candle Shrub is an attractive plant that adds its own exotic appeal to the islands' countryside locations.

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

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