Canarian pine, heir tree of volcanic eruptions

Adaptation to the ecosystem of canary pine It has made it resistant to fires and eruptions, its evolution has come hand in hand with the latter, and the consequence of this is that the first green shoots can already be seen among some individuals close to the La Palma volcano.

Coming from the Mediterranean ecosystem, it disappeared from Europe with the end of the tertiary period, when volcanic activity on the continent ceased and it only remained "where there were areas where active volcanism was maintained," he explained to EFE Luis Alfonso Gil, biologist and forest engineer doctor.

The also professor of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) has specified that the existence of parenchymal tissue inside the trunk implies a much higher metabolic cost than Iberian pines, with which its survival has been linked to those areas with better meteorological conditions such as the Canary Islands, even after the activity ceases. volcanic.

Are parenchymal cells, axial since they are in the axis of what is the main trunk and the primary branches, are "exclusive of this pine and are very well adapted throughout more than twelve million years of eruption between volcanoes", such as CSIC researcher Manuel Nogales has also assured EFE.

In his own words, "what we are being able to observe with this eruption is that this pine is well adapted to volcanic eruptions and therefore also withstands forest fires".

However, both the CSIC researcher and the UPM professor coincide in stating that natural fires in the Canary Islands are not very widespread since the rays, which cause them, usually come accompanied by a large amount of water and "it is not logical to think that there were great natural fires "in the islands.

In the case of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which Manuel Nogales has insisted on beginning to call "Tajogaite volcano" since it began in the valley that bears the same name, the extension of affected pines has been "quite different."

On the one hand, the surface most affected by pyroclastics or solid materials expelled by the volcano ranges from one kilometer to a kilometer and a half of extension around it; on the other, the emission of gases "is what has affected the pine forest the most" and has ended up causing chlorosis, a loss of the green color of the trees, which have practically turned brown.

Said chlorosis affects a kilometer or a kilometer and a half in the north, but in the south it reaches eight kilometers because "the prevailing trade winds come from the northeast and these toxic gases have been carried south", as explained by Nogales , who has clarified that "the southern pine forest is much more affected than the northern one."

In the case of pines affected by pyroclastics, green shoots could be seen since December 18 in those located on the very edge of one of the craters, as reported by Ángel Palomares, director of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, on La Palma.

They were found in pines that "had been left without branches, almost without bark", but which did not die, since those that were directly affected by the runoff could not survive.

The director has also explained that the first sprouts after calcination are simple leaves, up to four centimeters long and of a "glaucous, bluish-gray" color, while "after eight months they begin to take definitive shoots", of three leaves or needles.

The existence of three needles per brachiblast is another distinguishing feature of this pine with respect to the peninsular ones, which normally have two; In addition, it is a taller pine that can reach 60 meters in height, as specified by Palomares.


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