Galapagos Cactus

The Galapagos Cactus is common to find in the dry zones of certain Islands of the Galapagos Archipelago.

The Lava cactus, Candelabra cactus and the species of Opuntia or "Prickly Pair" are endemic to these set of Islands.


This plant in Galapagos plays an important role in the islands' ecosystems because many other species depend on it.

It is also a significant part of the fauna of its mostly arid Islands. The Cacti in Galapagos are beautiful and extensive; you can find them almost on every Island you visit.

Galapagos Cacti

galapagos cactus

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Cactus store water in their stems and leaves and are able to survive in aggressive climates. The cactus has spines which are a fundamental part of the Cacti, they are used to guard against hostile animals making the plant difficult to chew.

The spines are also useful because they offer shade to keep the internal temperature of the plant down, and they send rainwater towards the bottom of the plant.

The Opuntia, or prickly pear cactus is an endemic species and is the most prominent and the most diverse Galapagos cactus. There are fourteen different categories and six species of endemic Opuntia in the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Cactus provides food to many birds and animals on the islands. Some of these animals are: Galapagos Finches, Galapagos Iguanas and the Galapagos Tortoises, Doves and mockingbirds, also feed from this plant.

Some cacti species are classified by island and others by climactic zones. On Santa Fe Island for example, the only species of cactus found here is the Opuntia echios barringtonensis.

In the arid zones of the Galapagos Island of San Cristobal you will find another variety of cacti such as the O. megasperma orientalis

And in the upper zones of this Island the O. megasperma mesophyticais the prominent variety.

Galapagos Cactus Characteristics

Prickly Pair Cactus (Opuntia Cactaceae): This is the common name used for plants of the cactus family. It is endemic to Galapagos and it is also the most common in the Islands.

It has yellow flowers that develop into an orange-red prickle covered fruit and can grow up to 5 feet tall.

The prickly pear cactus is an important component of the Galapagos ecosystem upon which other organisms depend. Many herbivores feed on its pads, fruit and flowers. The Prickly Pear Cactus is the source of food to a lot of Galapagos land animals as well as birds.

Lava Cactus (Brachycereus Nesioticus) They grow up in groups on the lava fields of the Galapagos Islands and can reach a height of 23 inches.

The color of this cactus is yellow at the beginning then turns to orange and it fades to gray or black as it matures with time. It has white flowers that are visible in the early morning hours only.

Lava Cactus

galapagos lava cactus

Lava Cactus (Brachycereus Nesioticus) They grow up in groups on the lava fields of the Galapagos Islands and can reach a height of 23 inches.

The color of this cactus is yellow at the beginning then turns to orange and it fades to gray or black as it matures with time. It has white flowers that are visible in the early morning hours only.

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Candelabra Cactus (Jasminocereus Thouarsii) Is also endemic to theGalapagos Islands and grows up to 23 feet. It has green or red fruit flowers that open before dawn. This type of Galapagos cactus can be found on the cliffs of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island

In the Galapagos Islands there are nearly 600 species of plants and almost one third of them are endemic to the islands, which means that some species cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

In the highlands of Galapagos you can find bromeliads, orchids and theendemic Scalesia. In the coast of the Islands you can see giant prickly pears and candelabra cacti. More about Galapagos Plants

We can come to the conclusion that the Galapagos Cactus has continuously evolved into different varieties to adapt to their new environment and to survive to the different weather conditions that the Islands have.

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)
With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading! There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands
Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers. Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World
Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in. Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands
If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier. But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you. Small, well-priced, and reliable!

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire
The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table. This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!

More About Galapagos

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Galapagos Crabs

Galapagos Marine Life

Economic Galapagos Trips

If you have questions about Galapagos Cactus You can post them on our Galapagos FAQ Page and if you would like to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Tour Packages to explore these Islands, You can Contact us here

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