Visting the places where plants are native to is a real information boost towards your experience in Life
In Southern California, you've all seen them. Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis) Long and Leggy when young. Then they fill out a little later on as they reach maturity. Common in many commercial Landscapes as you can see below. Mostly they are a pine that can handle drought dry conditions with very little water and seem to fend for themselves once planted.
So we see them everywhere in the arid landscaping regions of the west. Other than Torrey Pines (Pinus torreyena) they are one of those pines that can tolerate lowland conditions of arid climates. Especially so if they have a mycorrhizal symbiosis connect going on below the ground connected to their root system, but then this is true of most pines. Most pines we only think of as living high up in the mountains somehwere. Okay, so well maybe they do in the West that's how folk think. But in it's actual for real native habitat (not the local Nursery) the tree endures, yet thrives in some of the nastiest soil I've ever seen in a high mountain environment. Yes, the Canary Islands have very large high mountains, volcanic mountains and an area still active. Here are some pics of their habitat and associated plants when we visited there this past February 2012.
As you can well see, the soil is absolutely nasty looking, or maybe not sine it works for them. But to a gardern/landscaper by no means. The soil however should tell you something about their requirements. Those pics are on the side and foot of a volcano cone which itself is in this giant super-volcano caldera the size of say the Southern Californian communities of El Cajon , Lakeside and Santee all put together.
I've always wanted to visit the Canary Islands to see the native environment where so much of our Southern California Landscaping material in the way of adaptable plants work for Southern California. Another one which is also rather historical as a landscape icon for So-Cal is Canary Island Date Palm ( Phoenix canariensis ) which is also a familar site one So-Cal boulevards and landscapes, especially in the older nieghbourhoods. Take a look.
One difficulty faced with having this tree in your landscape is they tend to be messy, especially if you have the female that produces those dates. Birds also nest in them, especially pigeons and sparrows, but also I've seen numerous Hooded Orioles who build these amazing intricately woven sock-like nests with deep pockets for rearing their young and they use the fiberous Palm Frond strands to accomplish this. Take a look.
Her's what the Canary Island Date Palms look like in their native environment in the Canary Islands where they often grow on the steep mountainsides on clusters or groupings.
Here is a picture of the high mountain city of Machu Picchu, see if you agree the setting is identical.
Well those are my thoughts on visiting sites where common plants we all use in the landscape come from. There's an entire gigantic natural world out there still waiting to be explored, not through the pages of National Geographic or Arizona Highways, where someone else explains the adventure but you can do it for real.