Canary Island Pine

7 September 2015

„pino“ - Inheritors of the Tertiary


Canary Island pine

Pinus canariensis

The endemic Canary Island Pine is able to rise from the ashes like phoenix. As of their valuable tea-wood humans once exploited pine forests - today they mainly have a recreational value.


The Canary Island Pine is said to be a pioneer plant on young lava soils

An impressive sight are the specimens found right amidst the lava flow of the Coladas de San Juan (El Paso) as well as those in the crater of the San Antonio Volcano (Fuencaliente).

Even on almost impassable terrains like the Cumbrecita you find pines rooting. There are exceptional tall ones overgrown with lichens in Garafía.

Where ever trees have plenty of space they form a large crown when they are older, otherwise they strive upwards, straight and tightly.

The Canary Island Pine can sometimes grow up to 50 meters tall.

Its shining needles come in sets of three each young shoot and grow up to a size of 30 meters. During spring pines have their flowering season.

Cones reach an impressive size of up to 20cm.

The bark of younger trees is yellowish and sometimes reddish-brown, older trees have a grey or reddish bark. Thick tree trunks show cracks with many barky layers.

El Pinar – The Pine Forest

The marvellous pine forests of the Canary Island La Palma are great for hiking.

The soil littered with needles is soft but also very slippery. A smell of resin permeates the air.

Water balance is essential for those forests.

Long needles of the Canary Island Pine literally comb the water out of clouds, which does not even require a pine forest. Moreover, it sometimes can be moist underneath some trees although the surrounding soil appears dry.

The pino canario can be found from almost sea level up to 2.100 meters height.

They create an especially beautiful scenery along the driveway up to the highest mountain of the island, the Roque de Los Muchachos. During May/June the low growth plants Codeso, Cistus and Echium Pine blossom and create a lovely picture.

The Use of Pine Wood

Core wood of old trees is very valuable. 

It is called "tea" and has been a sought construction material for many centuries. 

The wood was used to build ships, wind mills, barrels, cases and others. Many private and public buildings balconies, doors, windows, ceilings and beams have been constructed using this tough material.

In order to extract chaulking from this highly resinous wood for building ships, ancient pine trees were sulfurized inside special ovens (horno de brea)

Pine needles were collected padding damageable bananas during transportation. Until today it is used as litter in stables and goat cheese is smoked over rotten wood.

Fire tested

In its evolution the Canary Island Pine has been well adapting to fire, probably due to recurrent volcanic eruptions.  

Ancient specimens are able to burst out again after a forest fire. The dark burnt bark soon shows fresh green shoots.

It is like a miracle.

Young trees don't have this protection yet. Their bark is still to sensible and they burn completely. It also takes many years for the low growth plants to regenerate.

Please therefore be very cautious when handling open fire and cigarette butts, the Green Island will reward you.

Photos: Ines Dietrich, Uka Roesch

Rating and Comments

Your rating

Please comment your rating!

Please enter your email address

Note: You may withdraw your consent at any time for the future by sending an e-mail to

Please find detailed information about the handling of user data in our data protection declaration.