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Five Interesting Facts About Galapagos Cotton

While exploring the Galapagos islands we came across some Galapagos (or Darwin’s) cotton. 


Galapagos cotton flower

I had never seen a cotton plant before (not much cotton is grown in Canada) the only cotton I was familiar with was what comes in plastic bags at the beauty counter in the pharmacy or grocery store.

I was surprised to see how much the little cotton puffs on the plant looked like the cotton balls from the pharmacy. It looked like you could just pluck them off of the bush and bag them, but I guess there is more to it than that unless you happen to be a finch. Finches and other small birds use the cotton to line their nests.

Five Interesting Facts About Galapagos Cotton

  1. The yellow flower of the Galapagos cotton shrub is the largest of any endemic or native plant in the Galapagos islands.
  2. The Galapagos cotton seed can float for 10 weeks or longer in salt water, the embryo remaining unharmed.
  3. The Galapagos cotton shrub can grow up to 3 meters high.
  4. Galapagos cotton shrubs normally flower only after heavy rains.
  5. The seeds break open and produce the fluffy cotton.

Galapagos cotton plant (Darwins Cotton)


Galapagos/Darwin’s Cotton (Gossypium barbadense var. darwinii)


Galapagos cotton flower

If you would like to catch a glimpse of the Galapagos cotton while exploring the Galapagos they are most easily found (according to the book Wildlife Of The Galapagos) here:

  • Isabela Island at Tagus Cove and Urvina Bay
  • Floreana Island at Post Office Bay
  • Santa Cruz Island at Airport Road
  • San Cristobal Island at Frigatebird Hill and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

We got these pictures on our way to Las Grietas – Santa Cruz island.

Galapagos/Darwin’s Cotton (Gossypium barbadense var. darwinii)

About the author: Dena Haines Hi, I’m Dena Haines! I’m an traveler, photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. I’m a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for Canadian travel brands. I am co-founder of Click Like This a photo tutorial blog.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Dennis July 8, 2013, 7:26 AM

    Hi Bryan and Dena,

    I work in the field on cotton. I collect different species of cotton seeds for research purposes. I am interest in the cotton species found on the gallapogus island.
    If you could please informed me the where abouts of the cotton plant that you guys came across? which island exactly and part on the island?

    I have never visited the Gallapogus island, but if i get the opportunity to visit, I would not miss it.

    Thanks and regards,


    • Bryan Haines July 8, 2013, 8:14 AM

      Hi Dennis, we saw this cotton on Santa Cruz Island. The post gives more detail about this and other places you can see it in the Galapagos.

  • khalid October 18, 2013, 1:09 AM

    It looks like someone, somewhere is watching constsntly watching you
    We, muslim call him ALLAHH, and others name him our holy scipture, Quran, it is mentioned, ALLAH IS ALLWATCHING AND ALLPROTECTING.He never be tired nor sleeps.He is the creator of what is
    all, what is in the skies and the earth, He is the light of the
    THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH.If you want, you may get a translted
    Copy of QURAN AND HAVE A BETTER understanding.may Allah blessyou

  • Becky Schulze October 8, 2016, 10:10 AM

    I saw a cotton tree, or what certainly appeared to be a cotton tree in the Amazons of Ecuador. Could it have been the same plant? I was so awestruck that I ended up walking away without a picture. But, I thank you for sharing, and when I get to Galapagos, I will definitely look for this.


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