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Galapagos Islands

Galapagos flora

The plants of the Galapagos Islands had a great influence on Charles Darwin's work, his interest in plant geography and dispersal mechanisms was closely tied to the results of his collections on the islands.

The first scientific guide to the flora of the archipelago was prepared in 1846 by Joseph Dalton Hooker, an eminent botanist, and was based mostly on Darwin's specimens.

The plants are the basis of all life within the Galapagos Islands. Of the 500 species of "higher" plants 40% are endemic. These plants combined with the 200 species of introduced plants and 500 species of mosses, lichens and liverworts give the Galapagos its complex ecosystem.

The variety of plants on the islands is quite large since they all have different climates. The mix between lava rocks, deserts and forests is quite interesting and shows many different kinds of environments to expore for vegetation.

The coastal strip of the Galapagos is not strictly a climatic vegetation type but is an ecological one based on salt tolerance abilities of certain species at the land/sea interface. Many plants in this zone are adapted to dispersal by the sea, especially the mangroves. Few plants found in this zone are endemic as a result of the unstable nature of the environment.


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