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 A trip to one of the Azores 
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Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 3:55 pm
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Location: North Thames delta UK
Post A trip to one of the Azores
In the second week of May I went with a group of fernies to São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores. There is a convenient direct flight from Stansted to Punta Delgada with Ryanair, 4hrs once a week. I hadn't been before but some of the group had and knew some of the best places to visit.

Two things struck me in particular. Firstly it is wet. Very wet. A bumpy volcanic island turned bright green by all the lush vegetation - it called to mind Teletubby land, which is how I now refer to it. The second thing is how badly the alien species have taken over. I had read that Hedychium gardnerianum had become a serious threat to native flora but could not comprehend how. Now I have seen it everything is clear! Also Cryptomeria japonica, Gunnera, Hydrangea - even a cute little azalea. Tree ferns have naturalised but, although ubiquitious, are not necessarily pests. There is also one of the finest gardens I have ever visited - Terra Nostra.

I'll post a few pics and then add to them ad hoc.

General landscape shot

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Old viaduct smothered in epiphytes

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Misty, drizzly weather at this inland lake (of which there are several)

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Cryptomeria forest and everything covered in dense moss

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Cute little ginger lily...

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Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:48 pm
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Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:32 pm
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Location: Brighton Sussex uk
Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
Always wanted to go there. Not 'med' enough for she who must be obeyed


Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:50 pm
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Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:52 pm
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Location: Hayward- S.F. Bay area Ca.
Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
I didn't know the Azores was that wet..naturalized Cyathea cooperi or a native? I internet with an Azores gardener who once lived in Berkeley here in the bay area. He says the two climes are very similar. Something must change when an Azores mountain is involved.


Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:22 am
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Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:58 pm
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
Very lush and as you say moist Paul... not quite my scene. Look forward to seeing pics of that garden.

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Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:04 pm
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Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 3:55 pm
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
Gary, I am having that exact same conversation. :) It is only for one week, I say.
Stan, look at the first picture again then look out your window. I don't think the climates are at all comparable. http://www.holiday-weather.com/ponta_delgada/averages/. Ponta Delgada gets around 1000mm of rainfall a year and i reckon it must be the driest bit of the island. Cyathea cooperi and medullaris have both naturalised throughout the island and are also hybridising. Interesting to note my friend Tim was here 10 years ago and he said C. medullaris was rare then but now it is much more common than C. cooperi - even at some cold bits near the top.

A few shots from around Ponta Delgada - lovely mix of old and new. Portuguese colony from the mid C15 - the dragon tree was planted in 1480-something! You can just make me out at the base of the trunk. The Encephalartos lehmannii must have the largest trunk I have seen on one of these.


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Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:01 pm
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Location: Loughborough, Leics, central UK
Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
Nice to see the Azores it looks quite damp I also think after taking Jackie to Denmark that our next excursion may have to have a higher maximum temp of 8c...lol

Love that blue E.lehmannii that would cost a kings ransom to buy here obviously it can take a little wet weather.
I am gussing it can get a little windy on the islands looking at the lean on that enormous Dragon tree......did you get to see any tree Euphorbia?


Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:49 pm
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
I too thought the Azores were drier. This is a big question, but are the Canaries, Madeira and Cape Verde Islands similarly wet?


Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:48 am
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
No tree Euphorbia, Kev - they are on Santa Maria. But not even any E. stygiana - quite rare apparently.

Phil, broadly speaking the Macaronesian islands get wetter and cooler as you travel further west into the Pacific from Africa. Plus each island will have a wet/cool side and and warm/dry side.

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Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:57 am
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Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 5:40 pm
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Location: Co. Kerry, Ireland
Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
Having been there ourselves recently I can confirm the consistent humidity and rainfall. Never go anywhere without a waterproof. Lots of fresh Araucaria bidwillii and columnaris seed to be found. I was unable to locate the two stands of E. stygiana. It is more common on other islands. Seen lots of Picconia azorica , Viburnum rigidum, Rhamnus latifolia, Semele (climber), Ilex perado ssp. azorica , Persea indica and many other attractive woody plants all of which are hardy. Polypodium azorica was covering many old trees.
Culcita macrocarpa was very prevalent in freshly harvested Cryptomeria plantations. We saw lots of Trichomanes speciosum in the dark recesses of the remaining forest. No wild dragon trees remain on this island .
Saw fine cultivated specimens of Quercus insignis, Agathis robusta, Podocarpus , Ficus.
An almost perfect growing environment.

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Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:38 pm
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
Few more pics. Here the largest Cuclita macrocarpa we saw. It is actually very common here, unlike anywhere else in its range.

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Here for me the plant of the trip - Angelica lignescens, an Azores endemic. By far the most impressive umbellifer I have ever seen, and still some way to go before that developing infllorecence was done.

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A nice fern we saw somewhere, don't recall its name.

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A naturalised Tetrapanax papyrifera, not a 'Rex', which is what we are so used to seeing these days.

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Somewhere up a high mountain, cold and misty, an abandoned spa (spring was still running) and even up here Cyathea medullaris.

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Another day, another high peak. Our quest was to find a filmy fern up there - when we did my observation that it looked like a bit of wet tissue paper didn't go down too well in some quarters. But for me it was more about the walk and what we saw on the way. it was so wet here that Gunnera had self-sown and was growing on the surface of a rock.

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Loads of Culcita macrocarpa and Woodwardia radicans in the forest here - interesting to see on this particular mountain the woodwardia had very colourful new grown, akin to W. unigemmata.

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A few of the group at the summit on this murky day's hike:

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More to follow.

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Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:07 pm
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
Paul Spracklin wrote:
No tree Euphorbia, Kev - they are on Santa Maria. But not even any E. stygiana - quite rare apparently.

Phil, broadly speaking the Macaronesian islands get wetter and cooler as you travel further west into the Pacific from Africa. Plus each island will have a wet/cool side and and warm/dry side.


Which ocean was that again? :wink:

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Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:08 pm
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
Ahem. :oops:

Let's make that the Atlantic then, shall we.... :lol:

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Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:13 pm
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
A couple of the gardens in Ponta Delgada. Firstly the botanical gardens José do Canto, named after a famous Azorean plantsman.
Of note a very very old Beschorneria albiflora, mahoosive Cycas, Ginormous tree is Ocotea foetens. Have to say overall the garden was fairly underwhelming.

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Elsewhere in town was a free-to-enter public park that was actually pretty good. Moss everywhere and, surprisingly, probably the biggest Jubaea chilensis I have ever seen despite the wet climate. Cute old glasshouse.

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More to follow

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Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:28 pm
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
We visited a place called Caldeira Velha, which was basically a series of hot springs with Cyathea growing around them. What's not to like - top pool was mid 20s, middle pool was 37C - very relaxing, especially on a grey drizzly day. There was another pool that was 60C - didn't wallow in that one! Magical place, I thought, but my friend Tim had been 10 years before and he reckoned it had been ruined - back then it was just 'there' - no entrance fee, toilets, cafe, changing huts. Just nature.


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Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:43 pm
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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:04 pm
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Post Re: A trip to one of the Azores
Looks a fabulous place. Must do the trip one day soon.
Is your friend Tim a certain Mr. Pyner by any chance?

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Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:55 pm
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