SUBJECT: ENDEMIC FLORA OF GALAPAGOS
Endemic, in a broad sense, can mean “belonging” or “native to”, “characteristic of”, or “prevalent in” a particular geography, race, field, area, or environment; native to an area or scope.
The flora of Galapagos contains a total of 560 native species, of which aproximately 180 are endemic.
Galapagos has its very own, endemic species of cotton, pepper, guava, passion flower and tomato.
Not only that but many species are so different from others elsewhere that they are grouped in their own endemic genera.
These include Scalesia, the endemic ‘daisy tree’, which has evolved into a whole host of different species in a direct botanical parallel of the Darwin’s finches. Other endemic genera in the daisy family are Darwin’s aster Darwiniothamnus, the cut-leaf daisy Lecocarpus and needle-leaf daisy Macraea.
There are also some endemic genera of cacti, Brachycereus, the lava cactus and Jasminocereus, the candelabra cactus. In addition, the Opuntia cacti & Galapagos rock-purslane.
The Floreana Flax, Linum cratericola is another example. This species was only discovered in 1968 and was feared to have gone extinct some time after 1981 when it was last seen. Then in April 1997, two scientists from the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) discovered a tiny population of the flax in a volcanic crater on the island. There were just thirteen plants, only eight fully grown, in a tiny area 2 m by 1m. The site was very vulnerable, lying on a path used by feral animals and with invasive introduced plants growing nearby. In July 1997, the botanists visited again and found that the smaller plants had died leaving only eight, but five new ones were discovered on the cliff above. The sites were fenced in 1998 but the number of plants has continued to decline, with only six present at the last count. A project began in June 1999 to study these few remaining plants in an attempt to discover what is causing the decline and to control the problem. The project may include cultivation and reintroduction work.