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I have seen the pictured bush today when hiking around Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. From a distance, hexagonal patterns are visible: Adjacent branches grow in an almost perfect 45° angle relative to each other.

What plant is this, or what is a strategy for finding that out?

If you need more information, let me know.

bush closeup

Update: Below a picture, that I took after @Throsby's answer, for confirmation. It shows the closeup of a bud, plus mating behavior. ;-) This bush is in a different location than the one pictured above.

bud and wasp

  • 3
    looks like the crystalline entity! – Grady Player May 6 '13 at 3:47
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    At the risk of sounding like a jerk, I feel compelled to point out that hexagons have external angle of 60˚, not 45˚. But never mind; this is a way cool bush. – Hank May 9 '13 at 2:07
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    @HenryJackson Those are irregular hexagons. ;-) – feklee May 9 '13 at 2:12
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+50

I think that it is a great example of a Launaea Arborescens. The Spanish name is Aulaga, but the English name is a bit contested, either "spiny lettuce" or "barbed wire bush".

According to this site:

It is a shrub with small branches turned into thorns and up to 70 centimeters high with a few small hairless leaves, lightly lobed. The yellow flowers are grouped in small flower-heads one centimeter in diameter.

Surprisingly, it is a member of the lettuce family.

Here is a picture from the first link of the plant in bloom with yellow flowers, you can see the yellow in the buds in your photo. Very cool find.

enter image description here

  • Thanks also for the link to the site - very interesting: There are lots of plants here that I've never seen before, i.e. in mainland Europe. – feklee May 6 '13 at 20:22
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I'd hazard an educated guess at Corokia, or Wire Netting Bush, although I can't currently see any of the tiny leaves present. Even so, the haphazard nature of its growth habit and overall coloration point in that direction.

  • Thanks for the guess, but - looking at the images of the Corokia on Wikipedia, I'd say it's definitely different. Today, I saw more of these bushes, next to cacti, and I don't remember seeing any leaves. – feklee May 5 '13 at 23:10
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    @feklee I agree that the plant in your photo is probably not Corokia. Feeding pressure has pushed couple dozen unrelated New Zealand shrub species to evolve a small leaved, net branching habit similar to Corokia. Coprosma acerosa looks very like your plant but is probably wrong also since you found your plant on the Canary Islands. My best not-so-educated guess would be Launaea arborescens. – Eric Nitardy May 6 '13 at 2:09
  • Not one I've heard of, and I'd guess you're right Eric... – Bamboo May 6 '13 at 19:29
  • This doesn't look like a very accurate id. – J. Musser Aug 29 '14 at 3:14
  • @J.Musser, well duh... I know it isn't, it was just a guess, as I said in the answer, and an incorrect one at that, but thanks for saying why you downvoted – Bamboo Aug 29 '14 at 12:20

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