An unusual type of forest succession occurs on volcanic Rangitoto Island in the Hauraki Gulf, near Auckland. One of the first plants to take hold on the fresh lava is pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), a large coastal tree. The island was formed about 600 years ago, and pōhutukawa forest now covers about 80% of it. This succession from bare lava directly to forest without any intervening stages is rare in New Zealand. However it does occur on volcanic islands in the Pacific, where Metrosideros shrub and tree species trigger the growth of forests.
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