Teide’s Tajinaste Andy Montgomery | Posted: 06 May 2015
Enjoy a walking holiday in Tenerife in May and you may see the tajinaste rojo
Enjoy a walking holiday in Tenerife in May and you may see the tajinaste rojo
Enjoy a walking holiday in Tenerife in May and you may see the tajinaste rojo

While Mexico has its Monarch butterflies and Christmas Island has its crabs, Tenerife has its tajinaste, another annual natural phenomenon eagerly awaited and exhaustively photographed.

Head into Teide National Park in the second week of May and you’ll find vehicles abandoned on roadsides as their occupants desert them to scramble, camera in hand, across fields of lava to catch the spring flowering display of the Teide tajinaste.

Echium wildpretii, Tower of Jewels, Viper’s Bugloss, Tenerife Bugloss – whatever you choose to call it, the spectacular crimson spikes of the tajinaste rojo that illuminate the lunar landscape are an annual treat worth making the journey into Teide National Park to see. Named after the Swiss horticulturist Hermann Wildpret who lived in La Orotava and was head gardener at the Botanic Gardens during the late 19th century, the spikes of echium wildpretii come into flower on or around 10 May, reaching full blossom in the days that follow and remaining at their best for the rest of the month.

Rising to as much as three metres (almost 10ft) from the volcanic ground like red fingers curling up through the earth’s crust, the spikes are ethereal and are the emblem of El Teide. Bees swarm around the flowers in an ecstasy of pollen imbibing, filling the heat-resonating air with their drunken buzzing; portable hives are annually brought to the crater to allow the bees to party. The resultant honey is a perfumed, golden nectar that is highly prized.

Once the seeds have been produced, the flower dies and the human and insect buzz of activity dies with it for another year.

Related Holidays

To the Top of Spain

Our hotel-hotel walking holiday on Tenerife takes you on a thrilling journey from the southern slopes of the mountainous interior to the vast caldera of El Teide, where some challenging yet rewarding routes explore its colourful landscapes. Visit in May and you can see for yourself the tajinaste in bloom.

More about our walking holiday on Tenerife >

The first signs of new life for this venerated symbol of the volcanic heartland of Tenerife are the emergence of a rosette of silver oval leaves which forms at the base of the old plant. Over the course of the year the rosette resists extreme drought and temperatures that range from sub-zero frost, snow and icy winds, to 40 plus degrees of searing sun, as it gradually grows fatter and taller. When the plant reaches full maturity in its second year it throws up a central spike which blossoms into a pyramid of delicate crimson flowers with bright blue stamen, giving it an almost ultraviolet sheen.

Unlike Mexico’s Monarchs and Christmas Island’s crabs that can only be seen through a small window of opportunity which, once it closes, leaves nothing to be seen at all, Teide’s tajinaste is far more generous in spirit. Even once it has died, the tajinaste continues to provide a spectacle, its perfect skeletal remains rising like ghosts above the winter’s snow, a reminder of past beauty and the promise of future glory as seeds find their home at its feet. It occurs naturally between altitudes of 1600 and 2000 metres, and the lower the altitude, the earlier the flowering. The largest concentrations of flowers are to be found at a level of 1900 to 2000 metres in the central zones of Teide National Park, but we have seen crimson spikes in full flower in the alpine village of Vilaflor as early as March.

Always the bridesmaid never the bride, the equally beautiful white jewelled tower of echium simplex, or white tajinaste, can be found growing naturally in Tenerife’s Anaga Mountains where, depending on altitude, you can see it in full flower from as early as February and right up until April. Completing the tajinaste rainbow of beauty is the blue tajinaste or echium callithyrsum, a shrub which grows between 700 and 1500 metres and produces a proliferation of intense blue spikes. Bursting into flower from late March onwards, a good place to catch it in full glory is in Teno National Park.

Images © Jack Montgomery (Buzz Trips)

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