Story: Native plants and animals – overview

Snow tussock, hebe and Dracophyllum (1st of 3)

Snow tussock, hebe and Dracophyllum

In Fiordland at around 1,000 metres, beech forest reaches its upper altitude limit (known as the bush line). Here on the slopes of Mt Luxmore snow tussocks, Dracophyllum and hebe are dominant just above the bush line. Most alpine plants have evolved over the past 5 million years as mountains arose in New Zealand. Lowland species, such as hebe, have successfully adapted to alpine conditions, evolving into new species suited to new habitats. This process is widespread among New Zealand plants and animals and is referred to as adaptive radiation.

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How to cite this page:

Bob Brockie, 'Native plants and animals – overview - Alpine, wetland and coastal plants', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 12 August 2022)

Story by Bob Brockie, published 24 Sep 2007