New southernmost record for Antarctic flowering plants
Smith (1982) reported the discovery in 1981 of Antarctic hair grass Deschampsia antarctica Desv. on the largest of the Refuge Islands (68° 21' S) in Marguerite Bay, off the south-west coast of Antarctic Peninsula (Figure 1). This, was at the time the southernmost record of one of Antarctica's two native flowering plants. The only ecologically suitable area for vascular plants south of these islands appeared to be the Terra Firma Islands, 40 km along the coast, which Smith had been unable to reach due to dense pack ice. Earlier reports of grass and grass-like plants on the Terra Firma Islands could not be accepted as reliable in the absence of accurate descriptions, specimens or photographs, for elsewhere the bushy grey-green or yellow lichens Usnea antarctica and U. fasciata have been mistaken for grass when viewed from a distance. However, both Deschampsia antarctica and also Antarctic pearlwort Colobanthus quitensis (Kunth) Bartl., Antarctica's other flowering plant, have now been positively identified at a site on Barn Rock (68° 42' S, 67° 32' W) in the Terra Firma group.