The Lush Vegetation of Ecuador’s Galapagos

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The vegetation of the Galapagos Islands was equally as mesmorizing for me as its wildlife, in some cases, perhaps even more. It’s not just that views were stunning and dramatic or that the plants were unusual, it was the wildness of the land and the strong contrasts between the plants’ vivid colors. Each island offered something entirely unique even though some of the vegetation was common on all of the islands we visited.

Between volcanic spoils, bristling cacti, torchwood, common carpetweed (which, despite its name is astonishingly beautiful), chala crotons, and the ever abudant Opuntia, essentially a prickly pear cactus, which in the Galapagos, has evolved into six endemic species and many varieties.

Below, left to right, you’ll see cactus and vegetation on Rabita (the Red) Island, an abandoned albatross egg, Candelabra Cactus in flower in San Cristobal Island and Cactus Finches. Third on the right is a tree branch with rich rust-red bark, known as the Common Guava Tree. You’ll see a view of Gardner Island (fourth down) next to Lava Cactus on Bartolome Island. Next, be amused by a Galapagos Penguin on Bartolome Island and be stunned by the luscious red rocks of Espanola Island. Seven down is a Poisin Apple Tree followed by the lighthouse on Espanola Island. Take a look at the Galapagos Prickly Pear (or Opuntia Cactus) on Rabita Island, and the stunning colors of common carpetweed, which can be found on many of the islands in a rich array of colors.

My favorites were too many to list but I was obsessed with the Cordia Trees – young and old — and the lichens that grew on them. The color up close was a rich saffron color, so rich that you wanted to soak in it for awhile, even without its leaves in the dead of winter. Sea purslane was also stunningly beautiful, a succulent that grows in dense mats and turns to a rust-red and orange from June to November. Mossy trees were also not uncommon and you could find Miconia and Bracken growing on San Cristobal Island.

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