Flora and fauna of the Canary Islands - Summary

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Despite being small, the Canary archipelago presents a great diversity of living beings in its territory. At present it has been recorded that there are approximately 15,000 different species, of which 3,000 belong to vegetation. As for the animals of the Canary Islands, it is the insects that stand out in the archipelago since they are distributed by all means. If we focus on the vegetation of the Canary Islands, constituting the largest number, it is made up of mosses, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms.

If you want to know better the fauna, flora and fauna of the Canary IslandsContinue reading this interesting Green Ecologist article in which we will describe it in detail.

Characteristics of the flora and fauna of the Canary Islands

If we go back to the origins of the fauna of the Canary archipelago, we place it in the Early Miocene, that is, between 23 and 15 million years ago. Due to the separation of the Canary Islands with the continent that follows, we find that there are few species of fauna and that many of them are endemic. The zoological diversity is due to the climatic and landscape varieties of the Canary Islands and above all it is worth highlighting the great presence of cetaceans in the Canary waters. As a curiosity, most of the endemic animal species are birds and reptiles. Even so, the only amphibians that exist in the territory were introduced, in the same way that there are no native species of fish.

As for the flora of the Canary Islands, it has its origin in the European subtropical flora belonging to the end of the Tertiary era. In the western islands, laurel and Canary pine forests are found thanks to the influence of the Alder winds. However, in the eastern islands, being influenced by the Sahara, present semi-desert ecosystems. The climate and the orography have favored the formation of vegetation zones such as the xerophytic zone, the thermophilic forest, the humid forest, the laurel forest, Fayal-heather, pine forest and high mountain vegetation.

If you want to know more about forests, you can consult Green Ecologist's article on Types of forests for more information.

Canary flora

In order to know the plants of the Canary Islands, we are going to describe which plants are found together with a brief description:

Granadillo or Canariense hypericum

The granadillo is a shrub that is about 3 meters high and is characterized by its brown bark, its woody stems and for being highly branched. Presents showy yellow flowers grouped in small branches. They bloom near the ravines in June.

Teide broom or Spartocytisus supranubius

It is one of the most attractive plants in the Teide National Park. It is unique in its kind, it can measure between 1.20 and 1.50 meters and it has long and robust branches.

Woody Mayflower or Pericallis hadrosoma

Set of plants that present small leaves forming a white and purple dial. They are normally located in the Tenteniguada area, approximately 1,200 meters above sea level. It is unique to the island of Gran Canaria.

Tajinaste red or Echium wildpretii

This plant is also found in the Teide National Park, although it is also located on the island of La Palma. Reach the 3 meters tall and only flower a few weeks a year.

Moya's cockscomb o Isoplexis chalcantha

It is endemic to the island of Gran Canaria and grows in the laurel area. Although it can be located, it is very scarce and is currently in danger of extinction. Its leaves are narrow and lance-shaped. Its flowers are dark reddish in color and show dense inflorescences.

Other species of flora of the Canary Islands

  • Turmero de Inagua or Helianthemun inaguae
  • Riso Gold or Anagyris latifolia
  • Canarian strawberry tree or Arbutus canariensis
  • Sea pineapple or Attraylis preauxiana

Canary fauna

In this section we will show you some of the most common species of animals in the Canary Islands:

The Tenerife or Hemicycla plicaria

The Tenerife is a endemic gastropod mollusk from Tenerife. This land snail has a shell of up to 2.5 cm and is depressed, its color is light brown, dull and uniform. It also has radial pleats making this its most striking feature.

The gambusia or Gambusia affinis

The gambusia is a small fresh water fish actually native to the Gulf of Mexico, but it was introduced in some areas of the European continent. It is a small, robust fish, with its mouth located at the top and with the presence of a wide and rounded tail.

Southern frog or Hyla meridionalis

Anuran amphibian that measures up to 5 cm in length, is one of the smallest amphibians in Europe. They are usually located in ponds, reservoirs and lakes, and are efficiently camouflaged among the vegetation that exists in their habitat thanks to the cryptic coloration they present.

Giant lizard or Gallotia stehlini

Endemic lizard of the Island of Gran Canaria, reaches up to 80 cm in length, thus, among the giant lizards, the largest lizard in the archipelago.

Loggerhead sea turtle or Caretta caretta

The loggerhead, loggerhead or loggerhead turtle is a sea turtle that can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific or Indian oceans, even in the Mediterranean Sea. This species of turtle has the world's largest hard shell.

Other species of fauna of the Canary Islands

  • Atlantic lizard or Gallotia atlantica
  • Green turtle or Chelonia mydas
  • Blue finch or Fringilla polatzeki
  • Canary long-eared bat or Plecotus teneriffae
  • Osorio shrew or Crocidura russula osorio

If you want to know more about the fauna of the Canary Islands, do not hesitate to read the article by Ecologist Verde that talks about Animals in danger of extinction in the Canary Islands.

If you want to read more articles similar to Flora and fauna of the Canary Islands, we recommend that you enter our Biodiversity category.

  • Anonymous. (2013). Flora and fauna of the Canary Islands in Adarve Natural Sciences Project (pp. 243-250). Available at: https://www3.gobiernodecanarias.org/medusa/ecoblog/mjcamdia/files/2012/11/Flora-de-Canarias-pdf3.pdf
  • Anonymous. (xxxx). 10 endemic plants of the Canary Islands. Villa Gran Canaria. Available at: https://villagrancanaria.com/es/blog/plantas-endemicas-canarias/
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