Colobanthus quitensis

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Colobanthus quitensis
Antarctic Pearlwort.jpg
Antarctic Pearlwort at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Colobanthus
Species: C. quitensis
Binomial name
Colobanthus quitensis
(Kunth) Bartl.

Colobanthus quitensis (Antarctic pearlwort) is one of the four flowering plants found in the Antarctic region. It occurs from Mexico until the northern continental edge of Antarctica Antarctic Peninsula, as well as in several Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands (South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands or King George Island). It has white flowers and grows about 5 cm (two inches) tall, with a cushion-like growth habit that gives it a moss-like appearance.

Due to a recent warming trend (see Global warming), more seeds are germinating, creating a large number of seedlings and plants. Reports indicate a fivefold increase in these plants, which have extended their ranges southward and cover more extensive areas, wherever found. This species extends south of 68° south latitude. Deschampsia antarctica (Antarctic hairgrass) is the only other native flowering plant in the Antarctic Continent.[1]

Botanical synonyms include Sagina quitensis Humboldt, Bonpland & Kunth.


  1. ^ Lichens, Antarctic; Significance, Vascular Plants: Their; Rudolph, E. D. (Apr 1965), "American Institute of Biological Sciences", BioScience (American Institute of Biological Sciences) 15 (4): 285–287, doi:10.2307/1293425, JSTOR 1293425 

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