The Palmetum of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a botanical garden of 120.000 m2 specialized in palms (Arecaceae) . It is located in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. The park is divided in "biogeographical sections" and includes a large system of waterfalls, streams and ponds, an ethnographical museum dedicated to palms, and a display shade house. The project was started in 1995 with funding from the European Union and the city of Santa Cruz and it was paralysed for lack of funding in the 2000 and never opened to the public. A large, valuable palm collection above 400 species is still maintained and improved while it waits for further developments.
The Palmetum is located in Santa Cruz
de Tenerife, capital city of the Western Canary Islands, in the
district of Cabo Llanos, in the coastal area named Parque
Marítimo César Manrique. It is a hill known as El Lazareto, a
former landfill of the city, overlooking the ocean. Average annual
temperature is 21º C and the absolute minimum temperature
registered 13º C.
The old landfill was shut in 1983. The creation of the garden
was started with funding from the European Union and the City of
de Tenerife. The project was started in 1995, under the
botanical direction of the Agronomist Manuel Caballero Ruano and
the biologist Carlo Morici. The landscape designer Carlos Simón
directed the construction of various lakes and waterfalls and the
plantation of the earliest gardens in 1996-1999. The development of
the project was suddenly paralysed in 2000 for lack of funding.
Since then it was kept with basic maintenance until 2006. During
2007 and 2008 some major works were performed in the park in order
to push it further. The whole watering system was replaced and the
unfinished southern slopes were landscaped and planted. Living
collections have been improved and ordered. New geographical
sections have been started for Borneo and Philippines and New
Guinea. The garden is still not open to the public. It can be
visited by appointment only through the City of Santa Cruz
de Tenerife. A public foundation named Fundación Canaria del
Jardín Botánico del Palmetum de Santa Cruz is expected to manage
the garden in the future.
Buildings and Facilities
- The octagon, El Octógono, is a half-sunken shade house of 2.300
m2, designed to host the most delicate species. It contains a dense
groove of tropical species crossed by winding paths, streams,
bridges, and waterfalls.
- The Ethnographical Palm Museum is a subterranean structure,
covered with vegetation. The main entrance is designed to look like
a "forest". It will host the existing collection of palm-related
objects, the herbarium, lecture rooms and class rooms.
As of 2008 the gardens contained a total of 1200 taxa
(estimation), 960 recorded accessions and about 3100 plants
(estimation). 72 of the represented taxa are included in the IUCN
red list, 14 of them are critically endangered.
- Most represented Families: Arecaceae: (404 taxa), Bromeliaceae
(89), Cactaceae (31), Agavaceae (26), Moraceae (27), Pandanaceae
(10), Mimosaceae (14), Zamiaceae (12)
- Most represented genera of palms (Arecaceae): Coccothrinax (43
taxa), Dypsis (21), Chamaedorea (18), Livistona (14), Pritchardia
(12), Syagrus (12), Copernicia (11), Arenga (10).
The collection focuses on palms from islands and the section
dedicated to the Caribbean is the largest. The collection of the
Caribbean palm genera Thrinax, Coccothrinax and
Hemithrinax are among the most complete in the world, as it
proceeds from numerous expeditions to the wild habitats and
collaborations with botanical gardens in the Caribbean, especially
with the Montgomery Botanical Center in Miami, the Jardín Botánico
Nacional de Santo Domingo and the Jardín Botánico Nacional de
Some taxa are grown in sufficient number to allow ex situ seed
production of IUCN species. An outstanding case is Coccothrinax
borhidiana O. Muñiz, which is a slow and Critically Endangered
species according to IUCN and is represented in the botanic gardens
by 17 specimens germinated in 1996, now fruiting in the Caribbean
The surface of the hill is divided in "biogeographical
sections", in order to host the palm flora from different areas of
the world. They are variable in size between 1.000 and 20.000 m2.
Some sections are landscaped with hills, streams, ponds or
waterfalls. Sections are listed below with some of the most
remarkable species represented.
- Biogeographical Section of the Caribbean Islands. It is the
largest of all. A large waterfall built with local rock pours water
into a pond surrounded by fair sand and coconut palms. There is one
of the most complete collections of the genus Coccothrinax. There
are adult specimens of Acrocomia, different species of Copernicia,
such as Copernicia ekmanii y Copernicia baileyana. Some other palms
are Syagrus amara, Pseudophoenix sargentii, Sabal palmetto,
Acoelorraphe wrightii, Zombia antillarum, , different species of
royal palms (Roystonea), Gaussia and Hemithrinax.
- Biogeographical Section of South America. Some of the palms
planted in this area are: Syagrus botryophora, Syagrus
vermicularis, Syagrus sancona,Allagoptera caudescens, Mauritiella
armata, Ceroxylon alpinum, three species of Trithrinax, various
Butia, and Attalea.
- Biogeographical Section of New Caledonia, with Kentiopsis
oliviformis, Chambeyronia macrocarpa, Burretiokentia, various
Araucaria trees and other plants endemics to New
- Biogeographical Section of Hawaii, with various species of the
genus Pritchardia, such as Pritchardia minor, Pritchardia munroi
and Pritchardia hillebrandii. Other trees native to the Hawaiian
islands grow in this section, like Acacia koa, Erythrina
sandwicensis, and Hibiscus arnottianus var. immaculatus,
- Biogeographical Section of Australia. The genera represented
are Ptychosperma, Livistona, Archontophoenix, Corypha, Carpentaria,
- Biogeographical Section of Indochina, with Arenga
porphyrocarpa, Areca triandra, Corypha umbraculifera,
Chuniophoenix, Rhapis, Arenga engleri, Arenga pinnata, Wallichia
disticha, Livistona saribus, Livistona rotundifolia and Licuala
spinosa, among others.
- Biogeographical Section of the Mascarene Islands, planted with
species of the genera Hyophorbe, Latania and Dictyosperma.
- Biogeographical Section of Africa, with Raphia australis,
Borassus aethiopum, Jubaeopsis caffra, Elaeis guineensis,
- Biogeographical Section of Madagascar. This section includes a
lawn with a large group of Bismarckia nobilis and Dypsis cabadae.
Many palms are scattered around a large lake, such as
Beccariophoenix, Ravenea glauca, Ravenea rivularis and many species
in the genus Dypsis. A Malgasy Baobab, Adansonia madagascariensis,
grows by the lake, and other endemic trees have been planted in the
- Biogeographical Section of Central America. Remarkable palms
are: Attalea cohune, Sabal mauritiiformis, Sabal mexicana, Sabal
yapa, Gaussia maya, many Acoelorraphe wrightii and some species in
the genus Brahea and Chamaedorea.
- Biogeographical Section of New Guinea. This area was started in
2007 in a formerly barren area surrounding a large pond. It now has
young specimens of Cocos nucifera, Livistona, Ptychosperma,
Rhopaloblaste, Salacca, Areca and many dicotiledonous trees planted
to provide shade.
- Biogeographical Section of Borneo and Philippines. A new area
planted in 2007-2008, with young specimens of Cocos nucifera,
Arenga pinnata, Adonidia merrillii, Heterospathe and many
- Biogeographical Section of "Termophilous woodland of the Canary
Islands". This is the large North-facing valley of the hill,
planted with the local flora native to the Canary Islands. There
are many Canary Islands Date Palms, Phoenix canariensis and other
native species such as dragon trees (Dracaena draco), Pancratium
canariensis and Apollonias barbujana.
The Palmetum of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, article published in
PALMS, the journal of the International Palm Society
History and pictures of the palmetum in PACSOA, 2008