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

Antipodes Island

Antipodes Island

At 49°S Antipodes Island is further north than the other vegetated subantarctic islands, but being only 7 km by 5 km is much the smallest and has a small flora — about 166 species of which 4 are endemic.166 Above the fringing cliffs the island slopes gradually to a high point of about 400 m. The vegetation is almost entirely tussock grassland dominated by poa litorosa. Near the shore the tussocks are particularly large and in Cockayne's words they 'grow so closely together out of the wet peaty soil that it is hardly feasible to force a passage between them, and it is much more easy to walk upon their tops, stepping from tussock to tussock'.162 Further upslope the fern Polystichum vestitum in its semitree fern form becomes an important component of the grassland, but there is also 'much bright-green Anisotome antipoda, pale bluish-green Acaena antarctica (climbing over the tussocks), and the tender green fern Histiopteris incisa'. In sheltered places Stilbocarpa polaris may form dense stands. Where ground has been manured by the giant petrel the endemic herb Senecio antipodus is abundant.

Shrub patches of Coprosma antipoda occur in sheltered gullies.

Localised bogs are largely devoid of tussock grass, but have an abundance of Anisotome antipoda, Stilbocarpa polaris and patches of Coprosma perpusilla and the filmy fern Hymenophyllum multifidum.