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

Campbell Island

Campbell Island

Campbell Island is found at 51.5°S. Topographically it is similar to the Auckland Islands but is smaller, measuring about 16 km by 16 km. It also has fewer vascular species, 128, of which the majority are shared with the Aucklands.164 Four species are considered to be endemic.

It is a little difficult to reconstruct the original vegetation patterns as the island was operated as a sheep station from late last century until 1931 and as a result some palatable species became rare while unpalatable species became more common. A fence was constructed across the narrow centre of the island in 1970 and all sheep removed from the northern half of the island. It is encouraging to learn that some species are now recovering strongly north of the fenced.165

Although not much further south than the Auckland Islands there is no forest fringe on Campbell Island. Instead up to about 200 m altitude in sheltered places there is a dense shrubland comprising the endemic Dracophyllum scoparium and D. longifolium. Sometimes two species of small-leaved coprosmas and Myrsine divaricata can be found mixed with the Dracophyllum. and also scattered through the tussock grassland.

Cockayne162 recognised two zones in the tussock grassland, the lower dominated by poa litorosa and the upper by Chionochloa antarctica. Scattered throughout are several species of herbs and small shrubs, including the two larger species of Pleurophyllum, Bulbinella rossii, Gentiana antarctica and the blue-flowered Hebe benthamii.

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The plants of cushion bogs and rocky mountain tops are mostly the same as those of comparable habitats in the Auckland Islands.