Lava Plants of the Galapagos Islands

December 14, 2011
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The Galapagos Islands are perhaps best known for their curious and approachable wildlife, but there are 560 native species of plants in the islands—plants which arrived in the islands by natural means. And of these, 180 are endemic to the islands, meaning they are found nowhere else. The islands, formed by volcanoes, have a wide variety of climates and vegetative zones each hosting a unique set of flora and fauna. The desert-like lowland areas between the coasts and the higher-altitude areas are home to the aptly named lava cactus and lava morning glory.

The lava cactus makes its home among the lava fields on islands like Fernandina. The plants are short, reaching less than two feet in height, and they tend to stick together, growing in clumps. Lava cacti are yellow in color as they grow, but once they peak, the color tends to dull and darken to gray or black coloration. Visitors who make it to the islands early enough may have the chance to glimpse the soft white flowers of the cacti, which bloom in the early morning and are gone soon after the sun has risen.

If they miss the flowers of the lava cacti, travelers on a Galapagos Islands cruise can turn their attention to the cliffs where lava morning glories thrive. Their blooms open up in the late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky, and they will proudly display themselves until mid-morning the following day.


For the latest travel trends and exciting discoveries, visit our Galapagos Islands Travel News section.