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

Closed Forests

Closed Forests

These extend in scattered patches from north Queensland to Victoria and Tasmania. The closed forests without Nothofagus have been divided latitudinally into tropical, subtropical and warm temperate. The first is found in north Queensland and is characterised by leaves of mesophyll size; the second ranges from central Queensland to central New South Wales and has a predominance of notophylls (small mesophyll); and the last straddles southern New South Wales and eastern Victoria and is predominantly microphyllous.184 A number of the genera prominent in these forests are shared with New Zealand, for example Elaeocarpus, Beilschmiedia, Dysoxjlum, Syzygium and the vines Freycinetia, Ripogonum and Parsonsia, but in most cases there are many more Australian than New Zealand species. Woody vines and vascular epiphytes are conspicuous page 224in the more northern of these Australian forests, but are less common in the south at the same latitudes as New Zealand's North Island. In Queensland 'strangling' figs may occur as emergents and, in places, species of Agathis and the related Araucaria. In Queensland also the abundant nest epiphytes are ferns — species of Asplenium, Drynaria and Platycerium (Stags Horn Fern) — equivalent ecologically to the asteliad nests of New Zealand.

Closed forests where species of Nothofagus dominate or co-dominate are scattered through south-east Australia near the coast and Tasmania. In eastern Victoria and Tasmania the species involved, Nothofagus cunninghamii, is closely related to N. menziesii of New Zealand. Nothofagus moorei of montane sites in north central New South Wales and near the New South Wales, Queensland border also belongs to the 'N. menziesii group', but has larger leaves than either N. cunninghamii or N. menziesii.

As in New Zealand the Nothofagus forests in Australia have relatively few species and few or no lianes and vascular epiphytes. Several other tree species are often associated with Nothofagus including Ceratopetalum apetalum (perhaps the counterpart of Weinmannia of the same family in New Zealand) Atherosperma moschata and in Tasmania, the conifers Dacrydium franklinii and Phyllocladus aspleniifolius. Tree ferns are common, particularly in canopy gaps and gulleys.