• Candelabra tree. Botanical trail through Barcelona

  • Candelabra tree. Botanical trail through Barcelona

  • Alluaudia ascendens from Madagascar. Botanical trail through Barcelona

A green desert

A site sheltered from the wind, overlooking the sea with lots of sunshine, and a temperature 2 degrees higher than the rest of the city, was chosen as the ideal place to create one of its most special and least well-known gardens: the Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera, where you'll find plants that tolerate sunlight, heat and a lack of water: succulents. Their name comes from the Latin word “succus”, meaning juice, because they store water in their leaves. They include species of cacti, agaves and euphorbias.

Although all the plants in the gardens merit special attention, the central area features some of the most interesting examples.

As we look at this esplanade full of cacti, the candelabra tree (Euforbia candelabrum) is the first things that draws our attention due to its size and height. This plant originated from the Horn of Africa and, although it looks like a cactus, it is a member of the euphorbia family, as its Latin name suggests. Euphorbias have spines along their branches which can hurt us much more than cactus spines if we try to remove them. Euphorbias have small flowers with no petals. They are the only plants that secrete a white latex that irritates the skin. The latex from this particular species is extremely harmful and can even cause blindness when you get it in your eyes. It is so toxic that African tribes used it in the past for poison arrow heads.

If you look to the west of this central area, you'll see another curious plant that you might confuse with a cactus. It is the Alluaudia ascendens from Madagascar, which forms very high vertical branches as it grows. When you look closely, you'll see that they are covered in spines and tiny heart-shaped fleshy leaves that grow in perfect rows.

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