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 only opened to the public in 2014. A large, valuable palm collection above 400 species is still maintained and improved while it waits for further developments. It is the theme park with the largest collection of palm trees in Europe.
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 21 °C and the absolute minimum temperature registered 13 °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 Santa Cruz 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 Cuba.
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 section.
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 Caledonia.
- 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, Normambya, Wodyetia.
- 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, Hyphaene.
- 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 Malagasy Baobab, Adansonia madagascariensis, grows by the lake, and other endemic trees have been planted in the area.
- 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 dicotiledonous trees.
- 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.