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Candelabra cactus

Volcan Chico, Isabela island, Galapagos
© Henri Leduc

Common name:

Candelabra cactus

Scientific name:

Jasminocereus thouarsii

Spanish name:


Conservation status:

Least Concern


Average size:

Differs between species and varieties

Maximum size:

4 metres

Average weight:

8 metres


One of Galapagos’ endemic cactus species, the candelabra cactus gets its name from the shape of its ‘arms’ which give it the appearance of a candle holder. Less of a pioneer species than the lava cactus, the candelabra is found in the arid zones of islands where it can survive with very little water. 

Previously thought to have been three separate species, it is now understood that there are three subspecies of candelabra, each of which has a slightly different range and appearance. Fruits vary in colour among subspecies, ranging from red to green to purple, and provide food for many animals including finches and mockingbirds, as well as land iguanas once they have ripened and fallen to the ground. Finches and lava lizards are also known to eat the flowers, which only appear in the early morning.  

When a candelabra cactus dies its ‘skeleton’ sometimes remains intact and becomes a nest for birds and other small animals.

Candelabra cacti in Galapagos

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