The Galapagos Miconia is a native bush that lends its name to a whole ecosystem that is only found on the high slopes of Santa Cruz Island and San Cristobal Island on the Galapagos.
Bearing the scientific name Miconia robinsoniana, the Galapagos Miconia is found nowhere else, and is currently the most endangered of the native plant species of the island. In ideal conditions it can grow up to 16ft tall, but the introduction of grazing livestock and competing species like quinine trees, together with the narrow band of habitat within which it can grow, means that bushes rarely exceed 6ft tall. The quinine, introduced from South America in the 1940s, grows quickly and forms a dense, closed canopy which has the potential to completely wipe out the miconia underneath it.
In ideal conditions the Galapagos Miconia grows in dense thickets, making ideal nesting grounds for petrels, who favour their branches to raise young. Because of the wet and humid condition, the miconia zones on San Cristobal and Santa Cruz support few land birds.
The Miconia plants have large leathery leaves with pronounced grooved veins that cause an attractive pattern on the upper surface. The leaves of Miconia take on a slightly red or orange hue in the dry season, and they have purple or pink flowers that produce dark purple berries when ripe.
The miconia plants and the entire habitat are in peril from the non-native quinine, since most of the grazing livestock has now been removed from the area. There is an active campaign to reduce quinine numbers in order to try and protect the native miconia and the wildlife that depends on it. Our expert Galapatours naturalists guides will explain the importance of the endangered miconia zone, not only to the species itself but to the others that depend on the fragile ecosystem it supports.
Photos of Galapagos Miconia
Fast Facts about Galapagos Miconia
- In the Galapagos, the vegetation band between 1950ft – 2300ft is known as the Miconia Zone
- In ideal conditions, Galapagos Miconia grows up to 15ft tall
- Cattle introduced to the islands ate huge swathes of this native plant
- Miconia is easily identified by its yellow leaves with red/brown edges