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Antarctic flora


The Antarctic flora is a distinct community of vascular plants which evolved millions of years ago on the supercontinent of Gondwana, and is now found on several separate areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including southern South America, southernmost Africa, New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia. Based on the similarities in their flora, botanist Ronald Good identified a separate Antarctic Floristic Kingdom, that included southern South America, New Zealand, and some southern island groups. Good identified Australia as its own floristic kingdom, and included New Guinea and New Caledonia in the Paleotropical floristic kingdom, because of the influx of tropical Eurasian flora that had mostly supplanted the Antarctic flora.

The woody plants of the Antarctic flora include conifers in the families Podocarpaceae, Araucariaceae and the subfamily Callitroideae of Cupressaceae, and angiosperms such as the families Proteaceae, Griseliniaceae, Cunoniaceae, Atherospermataceae, and Winteraceae, and genera like southern beech (Nothofagus) and fuchsia (Fuchsia). Many other families of flowering plants and ferns, including the tree fern Dicksonia, are characteristic of the Antarctic flora.

Flora of Antarctica

The continent of Antarctica itself has been too cold and dry to support virtually any vascular plants for millions of years, and its flora presently consists of around 250 lichens, 100 mosses, 25-30 liverworts, around 700 terrestrial and aquatic algal species. Two flowering plants, Deschampsia antarctica (Antarctic hair grass) and Colobanthus quitensis (Antarctic pearlwort), are found on the northern and western parts of the Antarctic Peninsula. Species of moss endemic to Antarctica include Grimmia antarctici, Schistidium antarctici, and Sarconeurum glaciale.

References

Cox, C. Barry, Peter D. Moore (1985). Biogeography: An Ecological and Evolutionary Approach (4th ed.). Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.

See also

Antarctic Floristic Kingdom

Flora of Chile

Flora of New Zealand

Flora of Australia

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Antarctic flora


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