Bartolomé island and its endemic plant species
So we are in Galápagos now and today we are going on the most popular trip in the entire archipelago, to the island of Bartolomé, to admire the scenery and take the most famous photo, visible on most of the postcards from these islands (Figure 5 above). Bartolomé is a small, rocky, uninhabited volcanic island. Its name commemorates the British sailor Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, a member of the HMS Beagle expedition, on which Charles Darwin sailed to Galápagos at the end of 1835, and his discoveries during this voyage formed the basis of the theory of evolution, thanks to which this ship became one of the most famous in history. Even diving is allowed around the coast of Bartolomé. The most characteristic feature of the island is the Pinnacle rock, formed by solidified lava, cooled immediately after its eruption by seawater (Figure 5 and cover picture). The time spent on Bartolomé should not be excessively long, usually no more than 2 hours, to protect the ecosystem and minimize human pressure.
Before we get to know some of the characteristic plant species of the dry zone, it should be noted that most of the flowering plants on the Galápagos are capable of self-pollination (!), and at the same time, due to the lack of the need to attract insects, their flowers are usually not particularly visually striking. Therefore, white or yellow flowers are usually found among typical indigenous species.
On the raw volcanic substrate of the Santiago and Bartolomé islands, you can meet, among others several local plant endemics. The first is Tiquilia nesiotica (from the Boraginaceae family, which cannot be hidden, even by looking at its leaves, which are heavily hairy, which is a characteristic feature of most species belonging to this family; Figure 6, 7). This plant species is endangered with extinction (VU category; VU means Vulnerable in English). Tiquilia nesiotica is one of the first species that inhabits the bare soil of a volcanic nature - such plants that appear in various previously uninhabited habitats are called pioneer species/organisms. And it is exactly on the island of Bartolomé, as far as the eye can see, a very harsh landscape, poor in plant species can be found. The ones that showed up here are pioneer species. Tiquilia nesiotica forms characteristic, gray, sometimes quite compact clusters, hence its English name: gray matplant. Its flowers are small, inconspicuous, cream-colored, and inside a bit cherry red.