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Forest Vines to Snow Tussocks: The Story of New Zealand Plants



Above the narrow forest zone there is a wider belt of 'scrub' or shrubland. Some of the scrub species are also found in the forests, but in the shrubland they are reduced to 1-2 m in height and when dominated by Myrsine divaricata they are so dense as to be almost impenetrable. Myrsine divaricata is the dominant species on the upper parts of the valley sides and Dracophyllum longifolium immediately above the rata forest. On some gradual slopes the scrub is arranged in an unusual pattern (Fig 116). It forms narrow strips, more or less parallel to the contours, which alternate with open lanes with a ground cover of low plants including hard cushions of Oreobolus pectinatus, stunted plants of the scrub species, gentians, orchids and scattered tussocks of Chionochloa antarctica.163 We still await a detailed study which might lead to an explanation of this pattern.