Thanks to the 20 or so miles separately Catalina Island from the rest of Southern California, flora and fauna have had a chance to evolve separately, creating unique species found nowhere else on earth. One of the most charismatic of these island natives is the Catalina Island fox, a diminutive cousin to grey foxes that is a subspecies found only on Santa Catalina.
While the Catalina Island fox may steal the spotlight, Catalina is also home to a number of additional endemic species. Catalina Island Mountain Mahogany, Catalina Ironwood and St. Catherine’s Lace are just a few of the plant species found nowhere else on earth.
One of the best places to learn more about Catalina’s native plant life is at the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden, located at the top of Avalon Canyon Road. A 30-minute walk from town, the garden is a 37-acre showcase of California island endemic plants, as well as succulents and other desert plants. The garden was originally planted at the direction of Ada Wrigley, wife of William Wrigley, Jr. She had desert plants brought from around the world to create the original garden in 1935. More than 30 years later, the garden was revitalized and expanded and plants from all of the Channel Islands were planted.
The garden is open daily and can be reached by trolley, golf cart or on foot.