So, okay, no-one actually said it was dead, but since this fabled tree, one of the iconic symbols of Tenerife, only flowers usually around every fifteen years, and since it is reputed to be 1,000 years old, one can’t be absolutely sure that it’s still alive until it flowers.
This year, despite climate change and everything the modern world can throw at it, it defied the odds to blossom, even though it is only four years since it last bloomed. There must be something in the air in Icod de los Vinos methinks.
After lunching there last weekend (and that would be a whole other story too!) Pilar and I wandered down to take a look at the town’s most famous “inhabitant”. Neither of us had seen it for some years, and we were waiting for our ride back home, so we didn’t go into the eponymous park, but took a couple of snaps of the tree from the plaza by the church, just like every good tourist must do.
See – no sign of flowers. Usually I’m too late for stuff, not too early, even though I enlarged this picture several times over I still couldn’t see blossoms, and yet in the newspapers just a week later, there it was it all its glory. It’s very photogenic whatever, in one of the prettiest settings on this island – which is saying something.
The true age of this icon can’t be determined. Dragon trees don’t have rings like normal trees, but even if it isn’t a thousand years, there is no doubt that it is hundreds of years old, and has seen history made, it almost certainly witnessed the invasion of the island by the Conquistadors and the indignities heaped on the native Guanche inhabitants thereafter. The Guanches believed that the tree’s red-colored resin had healing properties.
Legend has it that the Canary Islands were the mythical Garden of Hesperides, where a tree grew which was the key to the secret of immortality. The tree was guarded by a fearsome dragon (is there any other kind I wonder?). Clearly the red resin, dragon’s blood and healing properties all were shaken and stirred over the years. I would just like to make it known to Captain Jack Sparrow that if he cares to come in search of it I am willing to help him out!