Alogodón de Darwin
15 – 20 years
Galapagos cotton, or Darwin’s cotton, is a shrub endemic to the Galapagos Islands. It is found in the arid and transition zones in shrubland and dry forest, and can grow up to 3 metres high. The plant normally only flowers after heavy rains. Its flowers are a bright yellow colour, and are the largest flowers of any endemic or native plant in the Islands.
The seed produced splits open and produces fluffy cotton. Whilst the cotton is not cultivated or harvested for trade on the Islands, it is used by small birds as a nesting material. Scientists have been able to utilise this behaviour by contaminating the cotton with insecticide, allowing the birds to self-fumigate their nests against the invasive fly, Philornis downsi.