A fertile soil, but without water

Influenced by the trade winds, which hit the arid regions of the Sahara and Sahelian desert, the flora and terrestrial ecosystem of the Cape Verdean archipelago are not tropical, although green covers most of the islands in the rainy season. However dryness of such a law, particularly on the south side of the Islands where the wind brings moisture, agricultural islands sow in dry soils with the approach of autumn. It usually takes a couple of rained several days to grow crops. Increasingly, solutions of irrigation technology (drip, hydroponics etc.) allow to benefit from a land that, in itself, would be very fertile, if not only lacked water.

In the valleys, in the terreiros and in the highlands of the mountainous islands agriculture also plays an important role in the economy of the country, enough to fill its markets of maize, various species of beans, sweet potatoes, cassava, vegetables and fruits with remarkable regularity. Mountainous regions have made considerable effort since independence in 1974 to plant trees in the archipelago. Between 2002 and 2004 this commitment resulted in the reforestation of an area of 5,000 hectares.

The natural vegetation

As regards the spontaneous flora, in Cape Verde there are 755 species of plants, of which 83 are endemic among 224 indigenous.

The Jatropha (from Greek iatròs, doctor, + trophe, food), used as a medicinal plant and for power, was called “green gold”, as in the nineteenth century played an important role in the archipelago when its seeds were exported to production of soap. Another common endemic plant in Cape Verde, the white hawthorn (Acacia albida) of the Mimosaceae family, came to occupy significant areas in the southwest of the islands, and its disappearance was compensated at the end of the last century by the American acacia (Acacia prosopis).

The dragon tree, known as the Dragon (Dracaena draco), is the best known species, both for portamento (reaches 12 meters high) and its “historical monument”, since it can exceed 650 years. Its sap, known as “Dragon’s Blood,” is considered by some to have curative powers. The Tamarix senegalensis (Tamarix senegalensis) is a tree that can survive with sea water and withstands the harsh coastal conditions of Cape Verde, although it does not reach the height of other subspecies such as Tamarix aphilia (up to 18 meters high).

Both plants are also used to obtain firewood and animal fodder.

The Sycamore (Ficus sycomorus), famous in the Gospels to be served to Zacchaeus as compensation for his stature, is on the steep terrain and can even reach twenty meters. Its fruits are edible.

The Marmulano (Sideroxylon marginata), the only endemic tree of the archipelago, can reach a dozen meters and can be seen only in inaccessible areas because accessible has been virtually eradicated.

A Date Palm, the Tamandaré (Phoenix atlantidis), particularly on the island of Boavista and besides providing the high quality date, produces leaves to feed the goats and the production of baskets.

The Tortolho (Euphorbia tukeyana) is a shrub rather woody, therefore, looked like firewood; It is also used as an ingredient for tanning.

The Oricella (Roccella tinctoria) is a lichen that grows on the rocks of the Macaronesian islands and in Cape Verde has been exported since the mid-nineteenth century, as is a dye (test blue litmus) that was used to dye the tissues to the appearance of industrial chemicals.

Herbs and shrubs, such as Gestiba, asparagus, cow, evergreen, lemon balm-melissa, broom, wormwood and others, complete the most common nucleus of endemic plants of Cape Verde.