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A vascular plant is one which has a system of vessels which transport water and nutrients between different parts of the plant (e.g. from the roots to the leaves).

At Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI), there are no trees or ferns and the most advanced vascular plants are low-growing herbaceous flowering plants.

The vascular flora on Heard Island is the smallest of any major subantarctic island group, reflecting the island’s isolation, limited ice-free area and severe climate.

Twelve vascular species are known from Heard Island, of which five have also been recorded on McDonald Island. A single specimen of one of these species, Leptinella plumosa, was recorded for the first time during the 2003/04 Australian Antarctic program expedition to Heard Island.

The vascular vegetation covers a wide range of environments and, although only six species are currently widespread, glacial retreat and the consequent connection of previously separate ice-free areas is providing opportunities for further distribution of vegetation into adjacent areas.

None of the vascular species is endemic to the HIMI.

Vascular species

  • Acaena magellanica
  • Azorella selago
  • Callitriche antarctica
  • Colobanthus kerguelensis
  • Deschampsia antarctica
  • Leptinella plumosa
  • Montia fontana
  • Poa annua
  • Poa cookii
  • Poa kerguelensis
  • Pringlea antiscorbutica
  • Ranunculus crassipes

Check out the plant images page in the image gallery for pictures of the vascular plants.

This page was last updated on 28 February 2005.