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



The southern tip of South America and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula (Grahamland) of Antarctica are only about 800 km apart and are connected by a loop-like submarine ridge bearing several islands. Unlike adjacent South America, however the present day plants of Antarctica can be dismissed quite briefly. Moss cushions and lichens grow on exposed rock on the Antarctic Peninsula and some rocks free of ice on the main part of Antarctica, particularly in the strange 'Dry Valleys' near the Ross Sea. The only flowering plants are two small species on the Antarctic Peninsula: a grass, Deschampsia antarctica, and a chickweed relative, Colobanthus quitensis, both of which are also found at the southern end of South America and elsewhere.