Endemic Plant Species on Catalina Island
Catalina endemic plants are species that occur naturally on Catalina Island and nowhere else in the world. A restricted (endemic) island distribution may result from the gradual elimination of a species on the mainland and its persistence on the isolated island(s), where the threat of extinction may be less. The island ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. floribundus), present on the mainland from six to nineteen million years ago, but extinct there now, exemplifies this phenomenon.
Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. floribundus
20,000 years ago, this unique sub-species of ironwood tree grew abundantly on the mainland. Now, this tree exists nowhere else in the world but Catalina.
The rarest of the Catalina endemics. Only seven of these small shrubs or trees occur naturally in a single canyon.
St. Catherine’s Lace
Eriogonum giganteum var. giganteum
Grows on dry, rocky slopes throughout Catalina’s interior. Changes with the seasons – from white in the spring, to beige, light brown, then deep russet in the fall.
The only Catalina endemic which is a succulent. Look for it on the slope at the foot of the Wrigley Memorial.
When the manzanita fruit ripens, its color resembles the brilliant wine-red bark – and the ground squirrels love it.
Galium catalinense ssp. catalinense
A perennial herb found mostly on rocky outcroppings on the lee side of Catalina.
Toyon or California Holly
Also called Christmas berry, because the clusters of holly-like berries remain red through the Christmas season.
Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii
The large-pitted fruit is not particularly tasty, but was still an important fresh fruit of the Catalina indians. Used today as an ornamental tree for landscaping.
The plant’s sticky lemony residue was also used by the Catalina indians for a refreshing drink.
Used in landscaping as a native ground cover for shady areas. Extremely fragrant.
This evergreen shrub has a pungent fragrance and sprawling growth habit. Yerba Santa occurs on Catalina and in coastal Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties.
A member of the deadly nightshade family, the large, purple-black berries are certainly not to be eaten – they’re highly poisonous! The Wild Tomato also occurs on other Channel Islands and Guadalupe, off the coast of Mexico.