Forest Vines to Snow Tussocks: The Story of New Zealand Plants
In the preceding chapters we have considered the present day plants and plant communities of New Zealand in some detail and those of some other lands more briefly. Some readers may now wonder how the present botanical patterns developed over geological time and in particular how such widely separated places within and bordering the South Pacific came to have related plants in similar communities. This is a difficult question to answer, but with plant fossils we do have a sort of time machine, even though the information it provides is very incomplete and sometimes difficult to interpret. Trying to reconstruct the botany of the past with fossils is a bit like trying to put together large and complex jigsaw puzzles, when many of the parts are missing and some of those we have are difficult, perhaps impossible, to place. Nevertheless it is often possible to find and correctly fit a sufficient number of pieces to gain at least a general impression of the overall pattern and a very clear idea of some details.