I was looking for a useful way to spend my saturday, to get to know active people, and to enjoy the natural highlights of Tenerife.That is why I joined an event of the environmental organization Abeque, which attempts to preserve the countryside of the Teno Massif. There, we erased plants of an invasive species, the Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum), which is a huge menace for the biodiversity of the Canary Islands.

Volunteer eliminating the fountain grass

It’s important to carefully bag the flowers and seeds of the fountain grass so that the plant can’t disperse

So, last saturday some volunteers and I headed to the Masca ravine, one of the most popular places of tourists and locals to hike and enioy the singularity of Tenerife.

Starting in Los Gigantes, we went to the beach of Masca by boat, where we gazed at the oldest stone formations of Tenerife. The sea was so clear that we could see lots of different types of fish, jellyfishes and even the bottom of the sea.

We arrived, eagerly to work and looking forward to take a bath in this wonderful looking ocean afterwards. We entered the Masca path, and after a hundred meters we found the first adult populations of fountain grass. It is really easy to remove the plant, making a small corporal effort and being cautious with the seeds. First, we carefully picked the flowers of the fountain grass and bagged them so that the seeds had no chance to disperse. In doing so, we impeded the expansion of the plant. With the help of a pickaxe we ripped out the roots of the plant and collected the seeds that remained accumulated on the ground. In order to reach some of the exemplars, we had to hike and climb, discovering, at the same time, hidden paths and canyons that are unknown to other tourists.

Eliminating the fountain grass in less accessible zones of Masca

Eliminating the fountain grass in less accessible zones of Masca

The group of volunteers was composed by very different kinds of people, having in common the motivation to contribute to the protection of the vast biodiversity of the island. The group dynamic was great, and laughing and joking the four hours of work spun away.

The highlight of the day was the well-deserved bath in the ocean afterwards. The salt water, curing the scratches we got from the leaves of the plants, felt even greater than usually because we knew that we had made an important contribution to the protection of the environment of this incredible island.

Fountain grass

One plant of the fountain grass can have up to 10.000 seeds

Fountain grass - an invasive plant and menace to the biodiversity
The fountain grass (lat. Pennisetum setaceum) is an African plant that was brought to the Canary Islands by travelers and migrants. In the archipelago it finds great conditions to grow and disperse. It reaches inflorescence in only three months, and every plant is able to produce up to 10.000 seeds.Those little seeds are easily dispersed by the wind, animals and also humans so that the fountain grass expands rapidly, inhibiting the endemic plants of the Canary Islands to grow. Developing that fast, and reproducing easily, the plant is a huge menace to the biodiversity of the archipelago because it is extremely difficult to control.