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23 September 2012 / leggypeggy

Cacti—the prickly bits in the Galapagos

Prickly pear cactus

Prickly pear cactus

The Galapagos Islands may be in the Pacific Ocean, but they are actually quite dry—the perfect climate and conditions for cacti.

Three main varieties grow there—prickly pear, lava and candelabra.

We saw lava cacti first on Bartolemé, an island dominated by lava. It’s considered a ‘pioneer’ or colonising plant. It grows in clumps with each microphone-shaped ‘branch’ being a separate cactus. New growth is bright yellow.

Then we saw the hardy prickly pear cacti. This plant is a survivor. Today many plants are quite tall and have trunks that are well-protected by spines and thick bark. It’s an adaptation that has helped them to fend off the many land tortoises that sought food and water from their once fleshy stems. That said, the land iguanas still manage to munch their way through these cacti.

We didn’t see candelabra cacti until the day we were leaving, near the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. This cactus is quite tall and looks like its name—and I missed getting a pic.

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Leave a Comment
  1. lmo58 / Sep 23 2012 5:08 pm

    The candelabra one looks very pretty; such nice colours.


    • leggypeggy / Sep 23 2012 10:31 pm

      Hi Louise, I’m glad you mentioned candelabra. I mis-identified that pic. That’s a lava cactus. Better correct the caption.


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