As you’ve discovered in my previous post, the flora of Madeira, in particular its capital city Funchal is very diverse.
This is reflected in the numerous parks scattered in the city, and the most famous example is probably the Jardim Municipal. Located in the touristic heart of Funchal, it was established in 1878 on the site of an old convent. It now features benches to relax, an amphiteatre for events and a café where it is possible to sip a local drink under giant ferns and aroids:
Flower beds bring colour to the square, with a mix of English cottage plant such as hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), stock (Matthiola incana) or black-eyed-susans (Rudbeckia), South American bulbs (Hippeastrum – the kind you put on your windowsill in winter!), Central American and heavily scented frangipani (Plumeria sp), and South African coral trees (Erythrina caffra).
For the plant enthusiast however, it is the trees that will catch the eye, whether they are Madeira natives or exotics. I wonder how old this giant Chorisia speciosa (silk floss tree – native to the forests of South America) is:
Other interesting trees include the African sausage tree (Kigelia africana – giant hanging sausage-like fruits, that’s a rare sighting in the European Union!) and a large Weeping Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis) from Southern Australia in full flower:
Going towards the sea, the visitor will reach the Parque de Santa Catarina, which offers stunning view of Funchal Old town and of the harbour:
Once again, there are trees worth noticing: the Kapok (Ceiba pentandra), a Central American tree whose fluffy seed pods can be used to make filling for duvets and pillows; and Schinus molle (the false pepper tree) – its fruits are sold as “pink peppercorns”, although they bear no relation to black pepper (Piper sp.)!
Being more exposed than parks on the heights of Funchal, the Parque de Santa Catarina is full of dry-loving plants, such as this gigantic Dasylirion serratifolium from Mexico, surrounded by the cactus-like Euphorbia E. ingens on the left; brown-leaved croton Codiaeum variegatum on the right; and tall Yucca in the background.
There is plenty to see on the ground too, with the pink flowers of the Mexican melastome Heterocentron elegans , and the stunning leaves of Farfugium japonicum:
And because I know you like that, here’s a bit more of Madeira’s blue sky, with a view of the central mountains…don’t worry, I will get you there in one of the next posts!
What book can you recommend for identifying this wealth of plant life, Sophie?