Author Archives: Canarius

The unusual world of Asclepiads and Stapeliads

21 Canarius | Monday April 10th, 2017 |

Odd and eccentric things always get our attention. This is what happens with the denominated asclepiads, a group of plants with almost 3,000 members, chiefly distributed in warm climates. They are perennial herbs, twining shrubs, lianas or rarely trees but notably also contain a significant number of leafless stem succulents, named stapeliads.


Their flowers are especially eye-catching for their beauty or for their unusual shapes. They often show unusual shapes such as starfish, chinese lanterns or spiders. They are often scented, and a source of nectar for some insects like bees, beetles, butterflies and more. A few species produce stinky flowers and attract flies as pollinators.

Asclepiads used to be a botanical plant family, but in the year 2000, the Asclepiadaceae family ceased to exist and since then asclepiads are considered a subfamily of the larger plant family Apocynaceae. The technical name of this subfamily is Asclepiadoideae.


The genus Hoya includes some of the most popular asclepiads among collectors.Hoyas are tropical climbers and epiphytes with showy umbels of fragrant flowers.

Some are cool-growers, native to high-elevation areas, while some other Hoya love hot tropical conditions.

One of them is Hoya Obovata, one of the Hoyas for Northern climates. Easy blooming and cool-hardy.It has beautiful round, glossy leaves and well shaped , long-lived, white blossoms.

The butterfly plant is the “true” Asclepias

asclepias-curassavicaThe genus Asclepias (without a D!) gives the name to Asclepiads. Asclepias curassavica is commonly known as the butterfly plant. It is the perfect host plant for the caterpillars of the beautiful monarch butterflies (both the African and the American species).

The 15 cm -long leaves are arranged oppositely on the stems and its small flowers are yellow, red, white or orange. In general terms, species of Asclepias are herbaceous or shrubby, with woody parts and with or without cork and fibrous roots.

They are toxic but they are also known for their medicinal properties in the treatment of dental problems in some states of Mexico. Another similar butterfly-plant that we often offer in our website is Gomphocarpus physocarpus, also called the Balloon Plant because of its swollen fruits. Gomphocarpus is another asclepiad, a bit taller, with white flowers and the same monarch butterflies love their leaves.

Stapeliads are special Asclepiads

Within Asclepiads we find the “florally advanced” Stapeliads (= botanical tribe Stapeliae) with lots of stem succulent genera such as Huernia, Stapelia and Hoodia. They are remarkable for the complex mechanisms they have developed for pollination, similar to the unrelated Orchid family, especially in the grouping of their pollen into pollinia. The fragrance from the flowers is often disgusting and they attract flies as pollinators.


They are native to different parts of Africa, to India and Myanmar. Two stapeliads are native to Europe: one is Caralluma burchardii, from the Canary Islands and one is Caralluma europaea, native to the drier South of Spain. Several species are endemic to the small island of Socotra off the Horn of Africa. The Arabian Peninsula, and most specifically the country of Yemen, contain another concentration of species. Several more are found in the drier parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Myanmar.

At Canarius, we have a wide variety of Stapeliads: angollumas, huernias, carallumas, and quite a few ceropegias – not really from A to Z – but yes from Ceropegia ampliata to Ceropegia woodii. The local stock of mother plants is continuously increasing, so we will offer more and more species and local forms in the next months and years.

If you want to know more about our asclepiads, stapeliads or asclepias, go to Canarius online store, discover and see all the details.


22 Canarius | Thursday March 30th, 2017 |

The sweet potato is a food rich in nutrients, low in caloric content and highly beneficial to our health. This herbaceous and perennial plant has great nutritional and medicinal potential, which has turned it into main food in some cultures.

Many of the benefits of this food are vitamins A and C, protein, potassium, magnesium, iron or calcium. Ingredients like vitamin C, is ideal for the growth and repair of body tissues or maintenance of cartilage, bone and teeth.

Sweet potato Ipomoea Molokai

Ipomoea batatas-molokai-oscuro-Púrpura-batata

In Canarius we have the sweet potato Ipomoea Molokai, a species of the family Convolvulaceae considered the darkest of all sweet potatoes, is from the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

It has spread rapidly across Europe and Asia and has a combination of brown, black, green, and violet colors that draws attention, despite its unsightly appearance.

In the case of the Ipomoea, it is also rich in flavonoids, has a great antioxidant, and anti-aging capacity. Preferably, we must locate it in a moist, hot, and bright place.

In general, sweet potatoes have benefits for our body like relief of the belly or inflammation in the joints

Nutritional and medicine use

In some cases, it has been described that the fresh leaves of the purple sweet potato help, in the early stages, in the treatment of cervical cancer. The formula, in this case, is its purple pigment, which is also found in other fruits and vegetables such as blueberries or red cabbage.


In relation to its nutritional use, there is a small problem when it comes to cooking the purple sweet potato, that is that it loses many properties. Some of the options to keep all its benefits are to extract the pulp and to take it like soup or infusion.

In other cases, are also a good option as an extra ingredient in the well-known Japanese food, sushi, or in a salad combined with other healthy foods.

In our online store, you can buy the Sweet Potato Ipomoea Molokai and other varieties like Ipomoea Batata Catalina Forastera or Ipomoea Batata Margarita.

All of them contain nutrients necessary for the organism and help improve health thanks to its benefits and we ship them in different formats according to the season and state of growth. You might receive one potted plant, or one tuber, or three rooting cuttings wrapped in sphagnum. ¡Get them!

Canarius, diversity of exotic plants

24 Canarius | Tuesday March 21st, 2017 |

Plants and flowers have an important role in our homes decoration. From Canarius we offer a great variety of exotic plants of the Canary Islands, very difficult to buy in garden stores.

In addition, this type of plants are a claim among collectors for their rarity or ornamental qualities (lush foliage, colorful flowers or very unusual forms).

One of the peculiarities is their ability to adapt to temperature and humidity, in addition to purifying the air. However, this “autonomy” is limited, since we, while taking care of them, must consider parameters such as light, irrigation, fertilization or space.

On the other hand, they are ideal for decorating facades and gardens, choosing the right place, pruning, and cleaning or watering them.

“Exotic plants can be used both indoors and outdoors, depending on their characteristics”


At Canarius we offer Europe’s largest selection of the genus Cycas, who are considered “living fossils” whose study has allowed to understand the plants that are already extinct. This genus has about 90 species, mainly in Australia and Indochina, although we can also find them in other areas like Polynesia or Madagascar. No true Cycas occur in Africa and America (but yes other related “cycads” grow there!).

Similar in appearance to palm trees, the genus Cycas is characterized by having a woody stem without branches or little branched and with live foliage near the apex.

One of the most special and attractive is Cycas tanqingii, native to the forests of Yunnan, China and northern Vietnam. Its appearance of short trunk and open crown culminate in elegant bright leaves, with fuzzy reddish petioles.


On the other hand we have  Cycas hainanensis, native to China and characteristic for its erect stem, leaves > 150 cm and 16 cm base. Each leaf is composed of 100-280 pairs of lanceolate flakes, with slightly curved margins, making this a spectacular plant.


In our online store, you will find all these species and more of these kinds. Canarius offers a great selection of plants grown outdoors and with the sun of the Canary Islands. Our plants are never collected in the wild – all legally produced and marketed. All species follow legal CITES standards.

 If you want to know how cycas grow, click here and find out.

A New Wave of Variegated Exotic Plants

23 Canarius | Friday February 24th, 2017 |

Variegation is a phenomenon that naturally occurs in plants as a random event. Variegated plants are visually appealing to people so they have been sought after and reproduced for years in many countries. During the most recent years, variegates have been a success on the international scene, especially with the new cultivars selected in Asia, chiefly in Thailand and Japan. More and more choicy variegates are now reaching Europe and the whole world.

Variegation can show up as stripes or spots or a chequered pattern. Some unusual types of variegation occur when only a part of the leaf is lacking green or when the the whole leaf shows a “frosted” aspect or a spiderweb of white veins. There may be several reasons why variegated plants acquire their originality (chimerism, optical effect, pigment overlap or viral infection). Whatever the reason, this type of plants is very appealing to gardeners.

Different variegated species in different plant families

Almost anything can show variegation. New selections have been developed in bananas to cacti, gingers, palms, aspidistras, ligularias and bromeliads. In Canarius we grow an increasing range of variegated plants to offer.

Some are beautiful, easy, cheap and fast, like the genus Acalypha, that counts in the archipelago with a perfect climate for its growth. Acalypha ‘Hoffmanni’ or Acalypha ‘Macrophylla’ are some of these showy colourful selections, originated in the Pacific islands.


Picture: Acalypha “Hoffanni” / Acalypha “Macrophylla”

At the other extreme we find variegated palms, that are slow to grow and reproduce. The most sought after are the Japanese selections of Rhapis: easy but slow palms, that grow well indoors as house plants. The most valuable variegated Rhapis palms are sold in Japan for 1000’s of Euros as rare bonsai palms! We do grow some Japanese clones here in the Canary Islands!

Variegated Succulents

Agaves, Cacti, Mesembs, Crassulas, Sansevierias and almost all groups of succulents now contain some variegated members. Some variegated succulents grow with good strength, because their white parts are just more storage tissue for the dry season. Agaves are possibly the most beautiful of all, because of their star-shaped symmetry, just like bromeliads. Dwarf, variegated agaves are true gems. Also the genus Hoya deserves a mention. These semi-succulent vines produce waxy, glossy leaves and scented, showy flowers. They tolerate low-light and make good indoor plants.


Pictures: Agave ‘Shoji-Rajin’ and Hoya australis ‘Lisa’

The Giants: Variegated Bananas and Aroids

The largest variegated leaves (after some exceptional palms!) are produced by Musa (bananas) and by the giant aroids of the genera Alocasia and Colocasia. These plants produce enormous leaves quickly, so they are helpful to enhance the tropical-looking garden in cold climates with short summers. Some of them are also edible!


Pictures: These two plants will also produce edible bananas and edible taro corms: Colocasia esculenta ‘Ele Paio Kea’, and Musa x ‘Cavendish ‘Supreme’.

The most loved : Variegated Large Bromeliads

Striped bromeliads are almost hypnotical. Their rosettes occur in all types of shapes and sizes, and the larger the species, the deeper the “hypnosis”! One of the boldest is Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Orange Variegated”, sought after for its exclusivity. Canarius only makes a few of these each year. Striped orange-blanchetianas make a rainbow of colour changing through the seasons.

And, what produces this colour? Just a lower production of the chlorophyll pigment will allow the back-colour of orange, yellow and green to turn into shades of white, pink, and purple: originality and beauty in a single plant.


Are Variegates Difficult and Expensive?

Not all of them! Most variegated plants are just a bit slower than their green counterparts, because they have less chlorophyll. Nevertheless, some variegates are more finicky. Some of them burn their tips or white parts in adverse conditions (dry, wind, cold, salt, etc.) so it is better to keep them a bit more sheltered than the other plants that you grow.

But, yes! Some variegated selections are doubtlessly more expensive. Not necessarily because they are slow or difficult, but chiefly because they are hard to reproduce, for these two reasons:

  1. Most variegated plants do not grow true from seed. Most or all their seedlings will be green, so they need to be reproduced by cutting or other similar ways.

  2. Some variegates give too many fully-green or fully-white shoots and only a few branches with the right proportion of green and white.

An example of slowness and patience is Aspidistra ‘Asahi’: This is a variegated for connoisseurs. Its new leaves are all green but the following year their upper part turns deep white. So it takes some time to develop the desired effect. Also the unusual Farfugium ‘Kaimon Dake’ takes some time to develop its white “frosted” leaves.


Pictures: Some different, slower Japanese variegates: Aspidistra ‘Asahi’ and Farfugium ‘Kaimon Dake’

What do we grow and what do we do ?

Since 2004, we imported variegated plants from all parts of the world, with the goal of building up our stock of mother plants. We also search for new variegations appearing randomly from green plants, both in our nursery and in other nurseries of the Canary Islands.

Our team is working on more and more new variegates for the future, from fruit trees to gingers and succulents.  Canarius grows all here in Tenerife, with quality and respect for the ecosystem.

The exotic red Atemoya

Anonna x Atemoya Red Israel texture Canarius | Thursday February 2nd, 2017 |

This superior quality, hybrid Atemoya surprises us by its intense red color, resistance, and exquisite flavor.

Atemoya: The best of the Anona and the Cherimoya

Anonna x Atemoya Red Israel 1The Annona x atemoya, also known as atemoya, is a hybrid between the Annona squamosa and the Annona cherimola (Cherimoya). In fact, the name of this exotic hybrid comes from combining “ate”—the old Mexican name for sugar-apple— and “moya”—from cherimoya—.

Both the Annona squamosa (anona, sugar-apple) and the Annona cherimola (Cherimoya) are subtropical crops originating in Central and South America, which generate large fruit with pulp sprinkled with large seeds.

The atemoya inherits the characteristics of the annona and the cherimoya, presenting an extremely adaptable and robust plant.

The red hybrid Atemoya from Israel

This particular hybrid comes from Israel and has a striking red skin. Although this crossing could remind us to the “big red” Annona squamosa; The “red Israel” is not an A. squamosa, but an atemoya, that is, that has a part of cherimoya as well.

Texture and color

The atemoyas usually have a heart or oval shape and are pale green. However this hybrid has a more rounded shape and its skin is a spectacular reddish color, as its name suggests.

Anonna x Atemoya Red Israel 2Usually the atemoya has a very rough skin in the part of the stem, very similar to the Annona squamosa, with fleshy protuberances similar to scales. As we move toward the base, the texture softens and looks more like a cherimoya. In this case, the skin texture of the Red Israel Atemoya is slightly rougher and even reminiscent of that of an artichoke.

Undoubtedly, the most striking visual feature of this hybrid Atemoya is its attractive red color, which arouses the appetite by just looking at it.

Pulp and flavor

The atemoya does not have the pulp divided into sections as occurs in the A. squamosa, but it is homogeneous. In this sense, the atemoya looks more like a cherimoya. The pulp is white, although sometimes it may have a slight pinkish hue.

The flavor of this “Red Israel” hybrid is exquisite: it is quite sweet but with a slight acid touch. It has tastes of pineapple, vanilla and blueberry. Also, its texture is very soft, succulent, and watery.

In addition, besides its exquisite flavor, the atemoya has fewer seeds than the cherimoyas. They have a dark brown color and are not edible.

Cultivation of the “Red Israel” Atemoya

At Canarius, we offer a potted graft of about 30 to 60 centimeters within 4 to 18 months old. We graft Annona x Atemoya adult cuttings in Annona cherimolas to improve the cold resistance of its roots.

The result is a robust plant, which has a cold hardyness similar to an A. cherimola and adapts itself very well. It does not need manual pollination and is very productive: it usually ripens from 4 to 6 months after flowering.

Enjoy this striking and tasty hybrid of Atemoya and many more exotic fruits that you will only find in Canarius.