More from Madeira

April 29, 2022 • 10:00 am

Here are more photos from my half day in Madeira.  This included a visit to the local market and the Palheiro Gardens, acquired by the Blandy (wine) family in 1865.

A wine shop selling Madeira. I missed the Madeira tasting in the afternoon, but they tried only two small tastes (of Blandy’s, I recall):

The market, fish section. Identify the fish. The long eel-like one is a local favorite:

What is this evil-looking fish?

Fruit and veg. Identify the fruit:

Closeup of the purple fruit:

The flower sellers dress in traditional women’s costume for Madeira:

Both the Canaries and Madeira seem big on potatoes, and I love them. The market in Funchal had many types of potatoes. What are these gnarly tubers?

Spuds galore!

I think these are small red peppers:

Sugar cane, grown locally and used in drinks, as I noted yesterday:

Several varieties of bananas and plantains were on sale:

. . . and many spices:

On to the Botanical Gardens up on the hill. I tried to photograph plants that I was told were endemic, but I can’t be sure of these, and some of them aren’t endemic. Identify, please.

Endemic flower, or so I was told:

Non-endemic tree. The picture below it shows the leaves (needles), which I’m sure some reader can identify:

The Blandy mansion, where the descendants still live. It’s smack in the middle of the botanical gardens, which they own, I think, but hard to photograph because of the trees around it:

Tiny pebbles are laid down by hand in patterns to make a sidewalk. This hand-work is found in many streets in Funchal:

Two species of endemic flowers, or so I was told. I’ve forgotten their names, and I’m not so sure our guide knew the meaning of “endemic” when I told her to please point out to me the endemic plants. These don’t show up, either, when I do a Google image search for “endemic plants Madeira”:

Th-th=that’s all, folks!

45 thoughts on “More from Madeira

    1. The sign underneath the gnarly tubers says “batatas” which is portuguese for potatoes. They don;t look like it, but I guess they are.

      1. They look very much like the most popular sweet potato variant sold in NZ, usually called kumara, extremely delicious when roasted or boiled.

  1. The black evil-looking fish are black scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo). It’s a deep-water species (hence the huge eyes) that’s been caught off the NE Atlantic islands for centuries, and has been fished commercially since WW2. I’ve eaten it once – it was pretty good.

    1. I got the “deep” from the eyes. The rest, it sounds like you’re a fishy character.

      BTW, I think I found why some people report “lost” posts. I accidentally hit the “Reply” link a second time when scrolling back up to check the pic.

    2. They look bony…like eels, very hard to clean properly, I suspect. I’m sure there’s a special technique, as is usually the case. When in doubt, make a fume. 🙂

  2. Awesome photos. Thanks for sharing.
    The long “eel like fish” is called “pescada” in portuguese. Several species are sold under that name. The english word for it would be hake, a group of fish related to cod and haddock (Gadiformes).
    In Portugal, Madeira’s bananas are very popular. They are much smaller than your regular Cavendish banana, but have much more intense flavor. Delicious!
    The “small red pepper” like things, are Eugenia uniflora, ( They are not common in the mainland, and I gather are mostly used for jam and jelly.

    1. In Portugal, Madeira’s bananas are very popular. They are much smaller than your regular Cavendish banana, but have much more intense flavor. Delicious!

      I hope the Madeirans keep hold of the IP on those. When (it’s a “when”, not an “if”) something gloms onto Cavendish and starts destroying the trees, the mass-produced banana is going to become a thing of the past. Rather like the loss of the Gros Michel cultivar in the late 1950s, but there are few (no?, at scale) replacements in the pipeline TTBOMK.

  3. Two WAGs (wild asterick guesses) the yellow flower at the bottom looks a lot like the spider chrysanthemums I buy–but i don’t know about the leaves. And the tree looks like what I grew up calling Monkey Tail tree or Monkey Puzzle tree.

    1. Monkey Puzzle tree.

      Aurucaria sp? That’s a very “Gondwana” distribution map on the Wiki page. Quite a good fossil record, which probably explains why the Latin name is sticking in my head.

  4. The small ‘red peppers’ are Suriname cherries, or pitangas (“red fruit” in Tupi language) in Brazil, its place of origin. Eugenia uniflora (Myrtaceae). Quite aromatic, but usually sour: they are good for juices. Birds love them. The seeds are good ammunition for slingshot battles – nicely round, but not heavy enough to hurt (too much).

    1. They use them a lot for landscaping here in south Florida (or something VERY closely related). I’ve been told that they’re edible (which must be true) but I’ve never quite been inclined to try.

      1. Go for it. Chose the really ripe, reddest ones – you will like them. But first make sure they are what they look like!

      2. “Surinam cherry is not recommended by UF/IFAS (U. of Florida/Inst. Food & Agric. Sc). The UF/IFAS Assessment lists it as invasive in south Florida and a species of caution in central and north Florida. It is listed as a Category l invasive species due to its ability to invade and displace native plant communities.”

  5. The orange and yellow flowering plants concluding the post look like Grevillea species to me: Australian plants.
    Grevillea are widely cultivated, and sold to put in vases too.

    1. Agreed. I think there is a South African plant that is somewhat grevillea-like in habit, but I’m not sure; and both flowers and plants in the photo certainly look to me like grevillea.
      And I think the tree is a Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla); endemic to Norfolk Island but widely seen elsewhere.
      The flower above it looks very much like a bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis); said to be a Mediterranean plant, but used as a garden plant here in California. It’s a pest, because it propagates by underground roots, like bamboo, making it very difficult to control or eradicate.

      1. Acanthus, yes, but an Acanthus mollis flower stalkin not that slim and elongated. I’ve got Acanthus mollis in my garden, and have no problem with walking roots, but with seed dispersal.

  6. There have been several comments regarding the evil looking fish already. It is a local delicacy, and can be found on the menu of practically every restaurant in Madeira as Espada with Banana. It is usually fried, less frequently grilled. While fish with banana might sound strange I found it to be absolutely addictive,

    1. “It […] can be found on the menu of practically every restaurant in Madeira […]”

      those must be the good restaurants.

          1. Oh, it does! 🙂 If you don’t mind the fat and the batter there is not much that can go seriously wrong with fried fish as long as it’s fresh.

            1. “… as long as it’s fresh.”

              And evil looking.


              ^^^ I’m just joking here, having too much fun. Apologies.

              1. Never mind! I have always thought the espada looked like a Tex Avery rendition of an evil fish, which in turn makes it hard to take it serious as an evil fish. A bit like “… came up with a fascinatingly complicated wacky plan to do evil, ended up fried with a banana, anyway…” LOL

  7. The last four photos look suspiciously like some ‘pincushions’ Leucospermum sp, which are overwhelmingly found in South Africa, particularly varied in the Cape Fynbos area. I gather some related genera are found in Western Australia.
    IANAB, but I doubt they are endemic to Madeira. Madeira was not part of Gondwanaland, but is an oceanic shield ‘hotspot’ volcano.

  8. The needles on that non-endemic tree reminds us of Araucaria which are from the Pacific, South America and Austronesia.
    A said, I’m not as botanist, but I would look in that direction. mayube some real botanists here?

  9. Purplish fruits that you took the closeup of look like dragon fruit and the green things above look like custard apples. I also see pomegranates.

  10. Purple fruit looks like dragon fruit (pithaya, pitaya), which is the fruit of a cactus (Selenicereus).

    1. Yes, dragon fruit is pretty, but the few I’ve had taste like diluted sugar water. Maybe a place where they grow naturally would have better uses than I’ve found.

  11. The fruits, vegetables and plants all seem so exotic unless, of course, you live there in which case they are just “the fruits, vegetables, and plants that we find around here.” I would live to try the fruits and vegetables they have in the market. The potatoes look especially inviting.

  12. When I saw the red flower my first thought was a Waratah from SE Australia. But on looking more closely I think not. It is one of the Proteaceae, which includes the species mentioned in previous comments, Grevillea and Leucospermum, as well as Waratah (Telopea). I now think one of the South African species – Leucospermum?
    The tree looks very like the Hoop Pine, Araucaria cunninghamii, an Australian native.

  13. Tiny pebbles are laid down by hand in patterns to make a sidewalk. This hand-work is found in many streets in Funchal:

    (Phone, no formatting shortcuts. Have to fix that.)
    Consider how they’ll wear. Still lots of edges (for grip) and channels (for drainage).
    Secondary consideration – as a volcanic ocean island, I’d suspect that a lot of these “different” eroding rocks are actually mantle xenoliths – fragments of the walls of Moho-ish chambers where the magma stewed for a few Myr before eruption. Do they glitter (have coarse grains) where broken?
    I was considering saying similar about Lanzarote. There, the lherzolitic-to-dunitic xenoliths are relatively green against black basalt.
    Look closely at mantle xenoliths. It’s unlikely, but you might find a diamond.

  14. Stacking fruit is difficult, especially in the small cones illustrated in the photo. Very skilled produce purveyors, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for the post, much appreciated!

  15. Batatas are a new selection in our local Wegman’s store. I just started seeing them a couple of weeks ago. They’re huge!

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