Gran Canaria
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Gran Canaria

Flora and Fauna

Cresta de gallo

Scientific name: ‘Isoplexis isabelliana’                           

Common name: Cresta de gallo

Family: ‘Scrophulariaceae’                                               

Genus: ‘Isoplexis’

Endemic to: Los Marteles Special Nature Reserve, Tamadaba Natural Park

Other location: Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo

Description: Plant species considered in danger of extinction in the National Catalogue of Species under Threat and in need of a recovery plan. Endemic to Gran Canaria, six populations are known with greatly varying numbers of specimens, from those with between six and ten, to those with between 250 and 500. It is a species associated with pine forests, growing on the slopes of the fringes of the forest and also in the undergrowth on the eastern slopes of the island, both areas with a marked gradient and little soil. As such it can be considered a relic of more abundant vegetation from former times. The different populations are distributed between the Riscos de Guayedra, Cazadores, Llanos de la Pez, Tenteniguada, Hoyas de Camareta & Gamonal, Cueva Grande, Tirma and the Riscos de Pino Gordo. All these zones are contained within the perimeters of various protected areas such as Los Marteles Special Nature Reserve, Tamadaba Natural Park, Nublo Country Park, Las Cumbres Protected Area. It has medicinal qualities, especially as a tonic for cardiac complaints and as a laxative, according to David Bramwell in his pocket guidebook ‘Flora of the Canary Islands’.  This guidebook also warns of toxic qualities and as such, should be used with caution. It can reach heights of up to 80 cm, and has wavy spear-shaped leaves with small reddish-orange flowers that appear between May and June. It is a plant of great scientific interest given that the agents of its pollination are the small birds who share its habitat. The principal threats are livestock grazing, medicinal gathering, the opening of tracks and waterways, along with the movement of hunters in the areas that it grows. The species is also being cultivated in the Viera & Clavijo Botanical Gardens where it is easy to reproduce by cuttings or seedlings.