Tajinaste Rojo (Echium wildpretii) Photo by Steve Andrews
Tenerife's Mt Teide is the highest mountain in the Canary Islands, and the highest mountain in all of Spain. Its very great height and volcanic nature have created unique environments in which some very rare plant species grow.
The Tenerife highlands are a real paradise for botanists who can hunt for rarities on the slopes of the mountain and the rocky scrub-land that is exposed to extremes in temperature and sunlight. Mt Teide usually has snow on its peak in winter, though none has fallen this year so far in the ongoing drought. Extremes of heat and cold and the very barren volcanic terrain offers a very unique habitat for the flora and fauna that live high on the mountain ranges. It can be freezing by night and baking hot by day and yet there are mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and many wild flowers and shrubs that live on Mt Teide's highlands.
Some plants such as the Teide Violet (Viola cheiranthifolia) and the Red Viper's Bugloss (Echium wildpretii) or Tajinaste Rojo are not found growing in the wild anywhere else in the world. These are two of the endemic rarities that can be found on Mt Teide. The Teide Violet is found very high on the mountain where no other plants are growing. The Red Viper’s Bugloss grows at lower levels near the Tourist Centre and hotel as well as by where the cable-car leaves from. This unusual flower, with its tall flowering spikes of red is often photographed and is the subject of paintings of Mt Teide.