|Antarctic Pearlwort at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia|
Colobanthus quitensis (Antarctic pearlwort) is one of the two 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.
Botanical synonyms include Sagina quitensis Humboldt, Bonpland & Kunth.
- Plants in Antarctica
- Pearlwort & Hairgrass picture
- Vascular Plants of the Maritime Antarctic: Origin and Adaptation
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