GOLD NAME: Xisca Nicolas
LOCATION: Garafía, Canary Islands, SPAIN
AWARD DATE: February 23, 2012
{English/ Spanish/ French -- technical name}


  1. Madeira bat / Murciélago de Madeira / Chauve-souris de Madère -- Pipistrellus maderensis
  2. Garafia shephard / Pastor garafiano / Berger de Garafia -- Canis lupus familiaris, local breed
  3. Fuerteventura Goat / Cabra majorera / Chévre de Fuerteventura -- Capra aegagrus hircus
  4. Donkey / Burro / Ane -- Equus africanus asinus
  5. Horse / Caballo / Cheval -- Equus ferus caballus
  6. Domestic Cat / Gato / Chat -- Felis catus
  7. House mouse / Raton común / Souris grise -- Mus musculus
  8. Rabbit / Conejo / Lapin -- Oryctolagus cuniculus
  9. Common Rat / Rata parda / Rat gris -- Rattus norvegicus
  1. Common kestrel / Cernícalo / Faucon crécerelle -- Falco tinnunculus canariensis
  2. Canary Islands Chiffchaff / Mosquitero / Pouillot des Canaries -- Phylloscopus canariensis canariensis
  3. Wild canary / Canario / Canari -- Serinus canaria
  4. Red-billed chough / Graja / Crave àbec rouge -- Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax barbarus
  5. Plain swift / Vencejo unicolor / Martinet unicolore -- Apus unicolor
  6. Blackbird / Mirlo / Merle -- Turdus merula cabrerae


  1. Blue tajinaste / Tajinaste azul / Tajinaste bleu -- Echium webbii
  2. Arrebol / / -- Echium brevirame
  3. Aeonium / Bejeque/ -- Aeonium davidbramwellii /
  4. Aeonium / Bejeque/ -- Aeonium vestitum
  5. Canary madrone / Madroño canario / Arbousier -- Arbutus canariensis
  6. Canary Wormwood / Incienso / Armoise des Canaries -- Artemisia thuscula
  7. Tree lucerne / Tagasaste / Tagasaste -- Chamaecytisus palmensis
  8. Canarian island spurge / Cardon / Euphorbe des Canaries -- Euphorbia canariensis
  9. Sweet / Bitter spurge / Tabaiba amarga o Higuerilla / Euphorbe amère -- Euphorbia lamarckii
  10. Verode / / -- Kleinia neriifolia
  11. Canarian lavender / Mato de risco / Lavande des Canaries -- Lavandula canariensis
  12. Canary date palm / Palmera canaria / Palmier des Canaries -- Phoenix canariensis
  13. Canary pine / Pino canario / Pin des Canaries -- Pinus canariensis
  14. Canary white broom / Retama blanca canaria / Genêt blanc des Canaries -- Retama rhodorhizoides
  15. Canary Island Sorrel / Vinagrera / Oseille des Canaries -- Rumex lunaria
  16. Dragon tree / Drago / Dragonnier -- Dracaena draco draco
  17. Balsam spurge / Tabaiba dulce / Euphorbe balsamique -- Euphorbia balsamifera
  18. Canary Islands St. John's wort / Granadillo / Millepertuis -- Hypericum canariense
  19. Yellow jasmin / Jazmin silvestre / Jasmin jaune -- Jasminum odoratissimum 
  20. Wild olive tree / Acebuche / Olivier sauvage -- Olea europea cerasiformis spp guanchica
  21. Tasaigo / / -- Rubia fruticosa
  22. Rockrose / Jara / Ciste de Montpellier -- Cistus monspeliensis
  23. Pitch trefoil / Tedera / Psoralée bitumineuse -- Bituminaria bituminosa
  24. Fig tree / Higuera / figuier -- Ficus carica
  25. Cornical / / Périploque -- Periploca laevigata
  26. White broom / Retama blanca / Genêt blanc -- Retama rhodorhizoides
  27. Dog rose / Escaramujo / Eglantier -- Rosa canina
  28. Henequen / Henequén / Agave -- Agave fourcroydes
  29. Swan's neck / Cuello de cisne / Cou de cygne -- Agave attenuata
  30. Eupatory or Mexican Devil / Flor de espuma / Ageratina -- Ageratina adenophora
  31. Krantz aloe / Aloe candelabro / Aloe candelabre -- Aloe arborescens
  32. Aloe vera
  33. Nopal / Tunera / Figuier de Barbarie -- Opuntia maxima
  34. Nopal / Tunera de tercio pelo / Figuier de Barbarie -- Opuntia tomentosa
  35. Chesnut / Castaño o castañero / Châtaignier -- Castanea sativa
  36. Carob tree / Algarrobo / Caroubier -- Ceratonia siliqua
  37. Loquat / Níspero / Néflier du Japon -- Eriobotrya japonica
  38. Walnut / Nogal / Noyer -- Juglans regia
  39. Almond tree / Almendro o Almendrero / Amandier -- Prunus dulcis
  40. Tree tomato / Tamarillo o Tomate de Árbol / Tomate en arbre -- Solanum betaceum
  1. Pericallis / Encimba / Péricalle de La Palma -- Pericallis papyracea
  2. Hare lettuce / Cerraja o lechuguilla / Laiteron -- Sonchus palmensis
  3. Canarian oat / Balango canario / Avoine des Canaries -- Avena canariensis
  4. Canary bellflower / Bicácaro/ -- Canarina canariensis
  5. Cliff trefoil / Trébol de risco / Trèfle de rocher -- Dorycnium eriophthalmum
  6. Mercury / Ortiga mansa / Mercuriale -- Mercurialis canariensis
  7. Canary Black bindweed / Norsa / Tamier des Canaries -- Tamus edulis
  8. Venus hair fern / Culantrillo de pozo / Capillaire cheveux de Vénus -- Adiantum capillus-veneris
  9. Scarlet pimpernel / Muraje / Mouron rouge -- Anagallis arvensis var caerulata
  10. Fleshy Canary Samphire / Lechuga de mar / Laitue de mer -- Astydamia Latifolia
  11. Field marygold / Alpodadera o Calendula campestre / Souci des champs. -- Calendula arvensis
  12. Rabbit's Foot Fern / Batatilla / Davallie ou patte de lapin -- Davallia canariensis
  13. / Pegajosa/ -- Drusa glandulosa
  14. Fern / Helecho macho / Fougère -- Dryopteris oligodonta
  15. Purple Viper's Bugloss / Palomina / Viperine pourpre -- Echium plantagineum
  16. Petty spurge / Lechetrezna tomagallo / Euphorbe des jardins -- Euphorbia peplus
  17. Fennel / Hinojo / Fenouil -- Foeniculum vulgare
  18. Fumitory / Palomina / Fumeterre -- Fumaria muralis
  19. Sticky weed / Raspilla / Gaillet grateron -- Galium aparine
  20. Small flower mallow / Malva / Mauve -- Malva parviflora
  21. Field poppy / Amapola roja / Coquelicot -- Papaver rhoeas
  22. Greater plantain / Llanten / Plantain -- Plantago major
  23. Salad burnet / Pimpinela menor / Pimprenelle -- Sanguisorba menor
  24. Bur bristlegrass / Pega-pega /  Sétaire -- Setaria adhaerens
  25. Milk thistle / Cardo mariano / Chardon Marie -- Silybum marianum
  26. European Black nightshade / Yerbamora negra / Morelle noire -- Solanum nigrum
  27. Navelwort / Sombrerillo / Ombilic des rochers -- Umbilicus heylandianus
  28. Nettle / Ortiga / Ortie -- Urtica urens
  29. Wood violet / Violeta de monte / Violette de Rivin -- Viola riviniana
  30. Prickly Chaff Flower / Malpica / Herbe à bengalis -- Achyranthes aspera
  31. Borage / Borraja / Bourrache -- Borago officinalis
  32. Shepherd's purse / Bolsa de pastor / Bourse à pasteur -- Capsella bursa-pastoris
  33. Buffalo grass / pegadera / cenchrus cilié -- Cenchrus ciliaris
  34. White goosefoot / Cenizo blanco / Chenopode blanc -- Chenopodium album
  35. Nettle-leaved Goosefoot / Pie de ganso / Chenopode des murs -- Chenopodium murale
  36. Bermuda grass / Césped o grama / Chiendent pied de poule -- Cynodon dactylon
  37. Fringed quickweed / Albahaca silvestre / Galinsoga -- Galinsoga quadriradiata
  38. Apple of Peru / Tomatera de culebra / Pomme du Pérou -- Nicandra physaloides
  39. Peruvian cherry / Uchuva / Coqueret du Pérou -- Physalis Peruviana
  40. Burr bristlegrass / Pegaropa / Sétaire -- Setaria adhaerens
  41. Chickweed / Pajarera / Stellaire des oiseaux -- Stellaria media
  42. Nasturtium / Capuchina / Capucine -- Tropaeolum majus
  43. Common Vetch / Alverjana o Arvejilla / Vesce commun -- Vicia sativa
Also, you may want to check out Xisca's photos here.


I will describe 5 different species than for the silver award. I have chosen 5 edibles that I can enjoy from our flora.

Nopal: This invasive plant from America is a love and hate! Its spines can be very dangerous, for example in the articulation of a finger, or in the knee, as they can easily touch the bone or enter the cartilage. They are responsible of inflammations or even infections, though they are never poisonous. But I love the fruit! One must learn how to collect it and how to peel it. Then, you can eat it, and either spit or swallow its many seeds. So, I tried to make a juice, and the taste was really different. I could also guess it was full of pectin, so I checked it and proved to be true. It explains why I can drink a pint of it and still feel my belly is light. Oh by the way, the red fruit is much tastier. And I also found more use for this plant. The very young branches – not leaves, the spines are the leaves – the young pencas, are edible in any stew with other veggies. More over, I learnt I could work with the plant in the garden, well around it as I do not want it inside, as it produces 3 times as much carbon as wheat straw for the same amount of water. And here, it is much appreciated to make compost; anyway, we have so many that we have to compost it…

Fig tree: I search hard before I decided to put it in the native group. Yes it was here before the Europeans came, but who knows if it was here before the Ganches, or if they brought it from Northern Africa with them? Anyway, it was the first fruit tree of the Canary and a major resource after drying. I love it fresh and I also dry it, and it is very tasty with almonds, an introduced species that is now part of the common scenery. There are 20 varieties of figs in Canary. Some grow by themselves, or were planted long ago, I don't know.

Nasturtium: What a nice "weed" to work with! Of course it is nicer than the nopal… It quickly covers what you want, and if you don't want, then it is so easy to remove it! I am sooo happy to deal with this soft plant that never picks you, quite rare here… Sorry yes it does pick, your palate! I love to put its flowers in salads, as a spice and for its sunny colours in the plate. Leaves are edible too, but so strong that I reserve them for omelettes. In the garden, they also shade the ground and provide lots of green for the compost.

Nettles: Would you believe it, when my neighbour saw I had a few nettles, she asked me for a root cutting! Anyway, here we have an annual type of nettle. And I managed to care for the ones I had found so that now I am happily prickled when I weed between veggies! As a major source of complete proteins and minerals, I respect nettles a lot for my diet. I even invented a raw green sauce as a rich dressing for salads. Of course, it is also useful to make liquid manure as a fertilizer or a spray instead of chemicals. But I was very interrogative about the place where I found those first nettles. Why here? This terrace was of course the wettest of all here, but then I discovered that the wall was fallen just behind them (it was under nasturtium and other climbers…). One terrace above, another wall was to be repaired… So I looked one more terrace up. There was a little ravine, full of tunera and Ageratina adenophora, the Mexican devil, and both love water. My first conclusion was about a concentration of winter rainfalls, but then I found out that more water was also coming from my neighbours' excess of water, the ones who wanted to get some of those nettles they surely help to settle there… Who still believe plants don't talk?

Fennel: I was about to choose the chickweed, as I collect it for salads and also leave it as a gentle shade provider, but then I decided I would rather speak about fennel, who is nearly a love and hate plant. Just try to get rid of its powerful root! Or cut it as low as you can, and it just comes back again and again. And huge. Or just imagine trying to make your own seeds of the cultivated fennel without getting hybrids. So, what could I decide… As usual, I try to work with plants. I was much fond of the oxalis until I discovered its expanding ability with stolons. At least, fennel stays where it is, and grows vertically, as much up and down. So, I decided to stop growing fennel, anyway it is demanding and grows slim (never as fat as in shops!). Now I eat the tender shoots of the wild one (and try it with an orange!). I also use it as wind breaker, and I make profit of a job it does well. Fennel has a long root, so it brings up nutrient from deep in the ground. Then, just collect its abundant green and compost it, or mulch the ground. It will just go on working for the next supplying. Thank you…


By doing this little survey, what did I learn, apart from getting more in touch with the reasons that make me want to do it?

Native, but from where?

It made my mind clearer about one point. Here, apart from plants that have been introduced, the native ones can be divided clearly into 4 groups. Groups are like Russian dolls, one group fitting into the other.

- Some are natives but are also found elsewhere in Europe ;
- Some are endemic from the large group of island called the macaronesian islands, as far as Madeira (and sometimes Morocco)
- Some are endemic of only the Canary islands ;
- Some are endemic from a specific island (with some relatives growing in other islands).

Some people hardly know that what they eat could not be eaten by their ancestors. This point can make us more thankful about the possibilities to travel, at the same time as being careful, as some new plants can disturb the local ones. Well, this is the same as when we humans are travelling, we should be thankful and careful!

Twins, or cousins?: I learned that humans are quite lazy, and that I was not going far enough in searching the exact name when I did not know the exact variety… Well, not only for plants! I knew I had geckos kindly eating some of those night butterflies those caterpillars eat my veggies… But which gecko lived there? I did not know. And I learned that the island nested some endemic beings that looked quite close to others that live elsewhere. I had to be more accurate for this survey, because this is an island, and it makes a difference.

Biotopes: I learned, well I did not learned but actually verified by myself, that my place is full of micro-climates, and that a few hundred meters makes a difference for the local flora.

Classification: Then, last but not least (and last only in this writing, as conclusions are endless…), it made me touch the problem of classification. I first focussed on the zones, that vary with altitude, and then on the different degrees of nativity.

Family knowledge is a tool and not a goal for me. Using the genres and families is very useful when you want to have a worldwide view, but not so much when you just want to recognize what grows around you. Anyway, it can be helpful to recognize some of them, as the solanacea. I tried several classifications, but it is better to think about the main one early, it saves time when you store photos.
It is very difficult to classify what grows around us, and many paralleled classifications can be chosen, according to the goal. I have several personal classifications, such as what I do with plants growing in the garden. "I weed it" / "I leave it" / "I eat it", with even 2 or 3 more subdivisions...

I have been interested into several classifications, as I wanted to know:

- Which plants were natives and which ones were introduced, though I found it mostly of intellectual interest. This is also interesting to identify some plants that look like ones I knew, or whose family looked familiar to me.
- Which ones are edible or medicinal plants.
- Which ones are welcome in my garden, and the ones I invite to please grow elsewhere.

I also wanted to be able to show plants more easily with photos, for some people come here on holidays for helping me. How can you weed, or avoid stepping on some wild herbs, or make your salad, if you are confused?

Weeding: About my last reason to identify plants, my way of weeding is a sort of selection, and I can explain it a little, as I hope to make it a suggestion for gardeners.

What are the advantages of selective weeding?

- Nature never leaves a bare ground, so when you weed out everything, some will grow again. If you leave the ones that do not bother you, they will prevent others from sprouting.
- The other advantage of the method is that it makes you know your herbs better, so you can become friends with the ones you like best.

The ones I like best in my garden are the ones I can take off easily when I need some more room or when my veggies are big enough to shade the ground by themselves, and need sun. The ones I prefer to see at a distance are especially the ones that hurt!

- Some hurt me, with their needles or some tiny hooks,
- Some just bother clothes, but are a lost of time worse that depilating!
- Some hurt my cultivated plants, by climbing too much.
- Some grow so fast that they can overcome from seed my seedlings.
- Some can also be welcome when they are young, and become a nuisance when they grow, be it only with a root to strong to pull it out.

Sure, you do not need to know their name to do it… But let's be practical. When you get the name, you can look for information on Internet, and you can also communicate with other people, if only more people knew their names as well!

Some philosophy…

We complain that we hardly know our neighbours in towns, but then, it is a good start to get acquainted to the living beings of our beloved nature, at least the ones that surround us. Isn't it the idea of Jim's award? Each backyard is a world, and getting interested into it the way we would like to relate to our fellow humans is a great idea.

It also helps and shows what our ideas about relationships are. I found out that my ideas are embodied by the way I get to know flora and fauna.

- Let's get to know each other, first as acquaintances and then closer and closer. I do not ask everybody's names in the street, but I do it for people I see often.
- I admit that I get along better with some people. As for plants, I appreciate some nearer and some a little further! This does not mean I want to eradicate all of them with herbicides!
- Neighbours are often closer than our family members. The best for everyone is to get along, which can be done best by getting to know each other, and this is worth an effort.
- When you get to know people or plants or animals better, then you appreciate them fully, and also you know what you can do or not. Plants are like us and do not all suffer from the same reasons. Just take the need for water. Some plants will thrive or die if you make no difference between them. We usually hurt and get hurt by lack of true information about each other. So, let's individualize the living beings that surround us.