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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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The Shelf Islands

The vegetation of these islands is that of ferns, liverworts and flowering plants. On Kermadec Islands (29 15' – 31 24' S) are some 117 species, 12 per cent of which are endemic and 76 per cent found in New Zealand. In lower altitude dry forest are Metrosideros kermadecensis, Cyathea milnei, Myrsine kermadecensis, Coprosma petiolata, with Corynocarpus laevigatus and Myoporum laetum. In wetter forest above are Ascarina lanceolata, Cyathea kermadecensis, Rhopalostylis cheesemanii together with Melicytus ramiflorus.

The Chatham Islands (43° 35' – 44 25' S) support 257 species of which 14 per cent are endemic and 86 per cent grow in New Zealand. Two endemic genera are Coxella and Myosotidium. There are no podocarps or large trees on these islands. The karaka and nikau palm (Rhopalostylis sapida) are prominent with endemic species of Myrsine, Hebe, Olearia, and Senecio.

On the sub-Antarctic Islands there are about 193 species of which about 31 per cent are endemic and 63 per cent occur in the North or South Islands. Pleurophyllum, a large-leaved herbaceous composite, is the one endemic genus and there are three species.

The Snares (48° S) have Olearia lyallii and Senecio stewartiae forest and grassland dominated by Poa litorosa and Poa foliosa. On the Auckland Islands (50° 32' S) a narrow belt of Metrosideros umbellata coastal forest in sheltered eastern inlets is replaced by a tangled scrub of Myrsine divaricata, Cassinia vauvilliersii, Coprosma spp., Neopanax simplex, Dracophyllum longifolium, and stunted M. umbellata to about 300 m. Above this is Chionochloa antarctica grassland. Campbell Island (52° 22' S) has a belt of Dracophyllum scrub to about 130 m in sheltered situations, above which is Poa litorosa grassland. C. antarctica grassland, now diminished in area, is found on the floors of certain valleys. On Antipodes Island (49° 41' S) Poa litorosa is the dominant tussock, and of the 57 species only the three species of Coprosma are woody. There are no woody plants on Macquarie Island (54° 30' S), which supports only 31 species of flowering plants, three ferns, and one Lycopodium. Poa foliosa grassland is common.

by Eric John Godley, M.SC.(N.Z.), PH.D.(CANTAB.), F.R.S.N.Z., Director, Botany Division, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Lincoln.

Manual of New Zealand Flora, Cheeseman, T. F. (1925); The Vegetation of New Zealand, Cockayne, L. (1928); D.S.I.R. Bulletin No. 107 (1954), “An Ecological Study of Tussock Grassland”, Barker, A. P.; New Zealand Journal of Science and Technology, Vol. 19 (1938), “Some Correlations Between Vegetation and Climate in New Zealand”, Zotov, V. D.; New Zealand Journal of Science, Vol. 4 (1961), “A Tall-tussock Grassland Community in New Zealand”, Connor, H. E.; Journal of Ecology, Vol. 18 (1930), “New Zealand Epiphytes”, Oliver, W. R. B.; Ibid., Vol. 25 (1937), “A Consideration of the Biological Spectra of New Zealand”, Allan, H. H.; New Zealand Journal of Botany, Vol. 1 (1963), “The Regeneration Gap of New Zealand Gymnosperms”, Wardle, P.; Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute, Vol. 42 (1910), “The Vegetation of the Kermadec Islands”, Oliver, W. R. B.; Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Vol. 82 (1954), “Forests and Climate in the South Island of New Zealand”, Holloway, J. T.; Descriptive Atlas of New Zealand, McLintock, A. H. (ed.) (1959), “Pre-European Vegetation of New Zealand”.