This species can become a small tree, branching abundantly up to 3–5m high. It is summer-deciduous. It flowers abundantly from September to March, and fruits in spring.


The leaves are:

  • long petiolate
  • acutely palmate-lobed
  • irregularly toothed along the margin

The flowers are:

  • arranged in groups of up to 5 in small terminal or axillary racemes
  • very showy, obovate-lanceolate petals, salmon-pink to orange

The flowers have:

  • net-veined sepals, lanceolate-acute, forming a cup-shaped calyx
  • bracts falling early, ovate-obtuse, half as long as the calyx

The fruits are divided into 30–40 indehiscent mericarps, which are elongate, and flattened, with 2 apical horns.

The seeds are kidney-shaped and blackish in colour.

Bird pollination

A team consisting of Javier Fuertes Aguilar and Alejandro Fernández de Castro of the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, and Juan Carlos Moreno of the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid, has carried out studies of pollination and seed production in several populations.

The studies conclusively showed that numerous visits by insects, and self-fertilisation had little or no effect, and seed production is due principally to bird pollination.

4 species of birds are known to visit the flowers of Navaea phonicea on a regular basis. They are:

  • Canary Islands chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis)
  • Canary Islands blue tit (Parus caeruleus)
  • Sardinian warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
  • blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
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Does not split open at maturity.


Sections of a divided fruit.


Inverted oval, tapering at the base.


Growing at high temperatures.