The growth and reproduction of Antarctic flowering plants

The presence of flowering plants within the Antarctic botanical zone (as defined by Greene 1964 a) has been known for nearly 150 years. The first to be discovered was a small, wiry grass of tufted or mat-forming habit, now called Deschampsia antarctica Desv., while the second proved to be a small cushion-forming pearlwort—Colobanthus crassifolius (D’Urv.) Hook. f. Skottsberg (1954) provided the first maps of their Antarctic distribution and summarized the small amount of information available about their reproduction and behaviour. As known at present, the two species extend from Neny Island (68° 12' S, 67° 02' W) in Marguerite Bay, northwards along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula to many islands of the Scotia Ridge (figure 59). Elsewhere D. antarctica reaches as far north as ca. 34° S in South America and eastwards to some of the Sub-Antarctic islands of the south Indian Ocean. The world distribution of C. crassifolius is uncertain owing to taxonomic confusion about the relationship of plants in New Zealand with those in South America, as well as doubts about the homogeneity of the taxon in the latter area. If the species in South America is considered in its widest sense, i.e. as embracing all the ‘grassyleaved pearl worts’, then C. crassifolius sensu lato extends much farther north than D. antarctica, certainly well into Peru (to 12° S), with localities north of the equator in Mexico.


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Authors: Holtom, Anne, Greene, S.W.

1 January, 1967
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences / 252
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