A walk through the vegetation of Fuerteventura
A walk through the vegetation of Fuerteventura

A walk through the vegetation of Fuerteventura

Although at first glance, Fuerteventura may seem like a desert with few life forms, on the island, 2,670 forms of terrestrial wildlife are known, up to now. Of these, some 700 species are plants, 16 ferns and 122 lichens. Among them are 15 exclusive endemic species of the island of Fuerteventura, among which the cardón de Jandia (Euphorbia handiense), the herbal salvia (Salvia herbanica) and the gongarillo majorero (Aichryson bethencourtianum), plants very adapted to the harsh conditions of insular life, where the rains are scarce, the abundant windy days and the hours of intense sun very numerous.

The island, although at first glance seems to have a homogeneous landscape, is composed of different types of environments, highlighting coastal salt marshes and lagoons, dune fields, desert plains and ravines populated by palm trees and tarajales.

The salt marshes that are in the coastal strip, are formed by zones that periodically are flooded by the live tides. The Saladar del Matorral, in Morro Jable, is the most representative of the Island and the Archipelago. It is also worth mentioning the salt marsh in Lagunillas on the island of Lobos; where lives an endemic evergreen of Lobos (Limonium bollei) and other plants resistant to life by the sea such as moor, salted, salted, salad, matos and sea grapes.

In the non-flooded areas we find interesting communities of coastal plants, lovers of salt. Some of the species that form it are the brown matilla (Franfenia capitata), the uvilla de mar (Zygophylum fontanesii), mato moro (Suaeda vera) or the evergreen (Limonium papillatum). Likewise, one of the most abundant species in this range is the sea thyme (Frankenia ericifoliae).

On the coast, there are also dune fields, sandy areas that have highly mobile soils, due to the action of the wind. In these places the vegetation acts as a fastening element, creating sand dunes and mounds. The most representative species of these areas is the balancón (Traganum moquini), a shrub specialized in this type of environment. Other interesting species are the uvilla de mar (Zygophyllum gaetelum), the gorse (Launaea arborecens), the lecheruela or lechetrezna (Euphorbia paralias), the bird’s tongue (Polycarpaea nivea), the St. John’s Wort (Lotus lancerottensis) or the hair weed (Heliotropium ramosissimum) ).

The interior of the island is occupied by semi-desert plains populated by woody shrubs, subjected to a great livestock activity. In them we can find a lot of white salted gorse (Schizogyne sericea). In addition some of these areas are covered by fields of recent lavas, forming badlands populated by a great diversity of lichens and succulent plants such as the bejeques (Aeonium sp.), Veroles (Klenia neriifolia) and sweet tabaibas (Euphorbia balsamifera). In these badlands and other rocky corners, the rare cuernuda (Caralluma buchardii) survives, a plant very threatened by overgrazing and human activities.

In the peninsula of Jandia, secluded in the ancient ravines that cut through the massif, there is a very rare and localized local endemism: the Jandía cardon (Euphorbia handiensis), one of the island’s jewels. It is in these ravines and The summits are where some of the most endangered plants take refuge, some of them remnants of wetter past epochs, such as wild olive trees (Olea cerasiformis), mastic beds (Pistacia atlantica) and mocanes (Visnea mocanera).

The action of the water on the old soils of the island has given rise to innumerable ravines, some of them with permanent waters, creating the adequate conditions for the establishment of the only arboreal representations that populate the island, the Canarian palm (Phoenix canariensis) and the tarajal (Tamarix canariensis). These are also on the edge of the old topsails, terraces of cultivation created by man to take advantage of the water during the winter rains. They are distributed over a good part of the island giving a characteristic aspect to the Majorero landscape, an authentic example of sustainability between man and nature.

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