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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Ninety percent of species in Puerto de la Cruz' Jardín Botánico were damaged in the recent calima and high winds

Ficus macrophylla at the Jardín Botánico in 2016

There are some specimens that were almost completely lost while others have suffered damage to their foliage and broken branches.

The damages were not as bad as in the storm of November 2010, which practically destroyed the Botanical Garden of Puerto de la Cruz, which was closed for almost a month in order to recover to normal. However, over the weekend in February - when the worst sandstorm in 20 years also disrupted carnival celebrations - the garden, the second oldest of it's type in Spain, suffered important consequences due to the winds and calima that affected 90% of the species, which were damaged with broken branches and many lost leaves because the extremely hot air, which exceeded 30 degrees, burned them.

This 18th century garden offers an interesting and extensive sample of flora from different corners of the world, tropical and subtropical plants of great economic and ornamental value. Its 20,000 square meters house trees of remarkable beauty and interest due to their size, age, rarity or origin. The damages cannot yet be quantified economically because the diagnostic work that requires checking each tree's state and analyzing the “rain of branches” that are fallen continue. "We have seen how big but some species are missing," confirms the center's director, Alfredo Reyes Betancort.

Among the most affected are the Ficus macrophylla, considered to be the most emblematic and monumental tree in the garden, which looks very deteriorated because the wind has removed 50% of the leaves. The garden has almost completely lost a kentia (type of palm) with two heads called Howea belmoreana, a specimen that is not very common.

Reyes says that the plants "are quite strong and in general, over time, they are recovering." However, when the specimens are between 60 and 70 years old an important story is lost.

The garden closed its doors temporarily to complete the diagnosis and to undertake cleaning tasks. "The main problem is the branches that have been damaged and many of them hanging in the treetops with the danger that entails," says Reyes. The cleanup began with those plants in the walkways to be able to guarantee the safety of visitors.

The Jardín Botánico y de Aclimatación de La Orotava (Botanical and Acclimatization Garden of La Orotava), was created in 1792 to acclimatize species from America and Asia, since the tests carried out in the royal gardens of Aranjuez and Madrid did not offer the expected successes due to the rigor of winter. Each year it receives more than 300,000 visitors, to its interesting collection of 1,500 subtropical species. The garden has a specialized library, a herbarium with 30,000 samples, a germplasm bank, a nursery and other facilities that make it an important scientific research center. The Botanical Garden was the first tourist attraction in Puerto de la Cruz and, since since the 19th century, has been an obligatory visit for all foreign travelers or hikers who arrived on the island.

Jardín Botánico Puerto de la Cruz