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Relatives Half a World Away
The Plant Species of the Canary Islands and Catalina
Over the New Year's holiday, I took a break from studying Catalina's native plants for a vacation in the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco. I was visiting a former intern of the Conservancy's who worked on Catalina protecting rare plants. We spent every day hiking and photographing the native plants of both Gran Canaria and Tenerife islands.
As I got to know the flora of the islands, I was surprised how at how similar the plants were to Catalina. I thought it would be interesting to put together a slide show of related species, cross-world counterparts from within the same plant families. This comparison highlights both similar plants on islands and the relationships between plant species.
Plants on islands tend to change into new species when opportunities arise, often filling a particular vacant role in an ecosystem. This is how island endemic species arise. The Canary Islands have around 400 plant species endemic to the ten-island chain, as opposed to Catalina's six endemic species and the Channel Islands' 100 endemic plants. The Canary archipelago is about eight times bigger than the Channel Islands and has two million inhabitants, in contrast to our population of a few thousand.
Sit back and enjoy the cross-world travel as we compare these beautiful plants!
Text by Sarah Ratay, Plant Ecologist
Photos by Sarah Ratay or Alvaro Martinez Darve Sanz (unless noted)