Story: Possums

Dead trees, Pirongia Forest Park

Dead trees, Pirongia Forest Park

Possums are selective browsers and defoliate preferred plant species. They have killed some of the canopy trees in this forest, but have had little effect on neighbouring trees. When a large proportion of a tree’s leaves are eaten in each growing season, it can decline in vigour and then die. Over long periods of sustained browsing, the composition of the forest changes – favoured species such as rātā, kāmahi, tree fuchsia and five-finger die and are replaced by plants that are not palatable to possums.

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How to cite this page:

Gerard Hutching, 'Possums - Impact on native plants', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 31 January 2023)

Story by Gerard Hutching, published 24 Nov 2008, updated 1 Jul 2015