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

Subalpine Heath-Scrub

Subalpine Heath-Scrub135

This occurs on old, leached infertile soils and is a low shrubbery from 0.5 to 1.5 m tall in which the small conifers Halocarpus biformis and Phyllocladus aspleniifolius var. alpinus (mountain celery pine) share dominance with Olearia colensoi and Dracophyllum longifolium.

Both the conifers also occur in the lowlands of Westland where they become small trees. In the greyish-green mountain celery pine, what appear to be fan-like or rhomboidal leaves are in fact flattened branchlets termed phylloclades.

These are some of the community types of subalpine shrubs and small trees, but there are a number of others related to special habitats or resulting from disturbances, whether caused by nature or by humans. Many of the species of these communities may grow in the montane forests especially towards their upper limits.