canary islands

A historic chestnut tree fatally damaged in Tenerife fire

The Tenerife fire resulted in the loss of a 500-year-old legendary Aguamansa chestnut tree, located on the peaks of La Orotava. This tree was catalogued as one of the historic and monumental trees of the Canary Islands.

The recent catastrophic forest fire that swept through Tenerife’s Corona Forestal has left behind a trail of devastation, and the legendary Aguamansa Chestnut tree, a natural treasure estimated to be around 500 years old, is one of its unfortunate casualties. Situated in the elevated region of La Orotava, this iconic tree, part of the Canary Islands‘ historic and monumental arboreal heritage, has suffered a grievous blow.

The fire’s emergence on August 15th in the Arafo and Candelaria mountains marked the beginning of an uncontrollable inferno that spanned ten days and consumed nearly 15,000 hectares of land. Its virulent intensity earned it the grim distinction of being the most significant blaze on the island in the last four decades and the most destructive fire in Spain for the current year. With a perimeter stretching almost 90 kilometers, the fire cut an unyielding path through eleven municipalities, including Acentejo, La Esperanza, and Los Realejos, eventually even penetrating the Teide National Park and claiming around 1,100 hectares of broom in Izaña and El Portillo.

Tenerife fire inflicts fatal damage on historic chestnut tree of Siete Pernadas.
With a diameter of 13 metres, it is considered the thickest chestnut tree in Spain. DA

Federico Grillo, a Tenerife forestry engineer and the director of Emergencies for the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, who took part in the firefighting operation, emphasized the exceptional voracity of this particular fire, deeming it one that would be long remembered. Despite the severity of the blaze, he remained optimistic about the recovery of a considerable portion of the affected pine forest within a few months. This optimism rests on the natural resilience of the Canary Island pine and the fire’s uneven progression.

However, amid this hopeful outlook, there are losses that cannot be reversed. Among them is the poignant story of the Aguamansa Chestnut tree, standing on a private estate owned by the Arroyo family at an elevation of 900 meters. This majestic tree, renowned for its historical and ecological significance, was already weathered by the ravages of time and windstorms, which had torn away some of its monumental branches. Unfortunately, the recent fire was the final blow, as the flames surrounded its base, consumed its trunk, and left it burning from the inside.

Experts from the Tenerife Forestry Brigades (Brifor) have declared that the tree’s wounds are mortal, predicting its eventual collapse. The once-majestic Castaño de las Siete Pernadas, once a source of pride and inspiration, now stands as a symbol of the fire’s tragic and irreversible impact.

Tenerife fire inflicts fatal damage on historic chestnut tree of Siete Pernadas
The fire penetrated inside the trunk, which was already broken. DA


This natural wonder has historical and cultural significance that echoes across centuries. Its unique name, translating to “Chestnut of the Seven Branches,” reflects the large limbs that sprouted from its trunk, offering enough space for a table beneath its boughs. Legend speaks of family gatherings, convicts’ fates, and even rituals performed beneath its ample canopy. The fire has taken this historical relic, robbing Tenerife of a natural monument comparable to the renowned Drago Milenario de Icod, albeit hidden away in the remote mountains of Aguamansa.

The loss of the Aguamansa Chestnut tree, renowned Tenerife professor of Botany Wolfredo Wildpret asserts, is one of the most distressing outcomes of the fire. Standing over eleven meters tall with a circumference of around thirteen meters, this tree was one of the largest chestnuts in the Canary Islands and the thickest in all of Spain. The chestnut tree’s name originates from the seven branches that once extended outwards from its trunk, leaving enough room for a table accessible by stone steps. The loss of this historic icon is felt deeply by botanists, researchers, and locals who cherished its presence.

Tenerife fire inflicts fatal damage on historic chestnut tree of Siete Pernadas
The historic chestnut tree farm is located on the Arroyo family’s estate on the Aguamansa plain. DA

The Aguamansa Chestnut tree was not just a witness to history; it was a part of it. Documented accounts from esteemed naturalists and travelers, including Humboldt and von Buch, speak of the grandeur of chestnut forests on Tenerife, stretching from Tacoronte to Los Realejos. The chestnut tree’s origins likely trace back to the conquistadors who introduced chestnut trees to the Canary Islands in the early 16th century. The revered tree, surrounded by legends and lore, now stands on the brink of demise, a victim of the fire’s unyielding advance.

Amid the sorrowful aftermath of the fire, the enduring importance of conserving natural wonders like the Aguamansa Chestnut tree becomes starkly apparent. Its loss serves as a somber reminder of the fragility of our natural heritage and the need to protect these treasures for generations to come. Despite its impending fall, the legacy of the Castaño de las Siete Pernadas will endure in the collective memory of Tenerife, a symbol of history, resilience, and the unwavering spirit of nature.

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