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

Open Forest

Open Forest

In this category trees grow sufficiently far apart so their crowns do not form a continuous canopy and the ground as a consequence is not heavily shaded.

In tall open forest, also known as wet sclerophyll, very tall species of Eucalyptus are dominant. One of these, E. regnans, is the tallest flowering plant in the world, attaining a height of 100 m or more. Tall open forest is restricted to maritime south-east Australia, Tasmania, and a small area at the tip of south-west Australia. Where soils are relatively fertile, ferns predominate in the ground cover and where it is infertile, heath-like shrubs, belonging to the Myrtaceae, Proteaceae, Rutaceae and other families predominate. This forest type is restricted to fairly moist climates and perhaps in the absence of fire it would be succeeded by closed forest.

Low open forest occupies drier sites, sometimes further inland than those of tall open forest, in eastern, northern and south-eastern Aus-page 225tralia and Tasmania. Relatively short species of Eucalyptus predominate in the tree stratum together with species of other genera in the same family and other drought-resistant species such as the scale-leaved Casuarinas. On fertile sites, tall grasses form the ground cover and on infertile sites heath-like shrubs. Sometimes trees are absent and pure grassland or heathland results.