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The Flora of Bird Island Research Station

Only twelve flowering plants have been reported from Bird Island. The majority are easy to find, but not always easy to tell apart. Only one specimen of annual meadow-grass has been seen, the fern is rare, small and well hidden, and although blinks has obvious white flowers, it was not reported prior to 2006. The following pictures and guide should help. The DAFOR scale of occurrence has been used to give some idea of frequency.

Plant Leaves Flower Detail
Acaena magellanica (Prickly burr (or burnet)) - Frequent in the meadows above the seal trampled areas. The leaves are grey-green and longer than wide. The flower heads are on erect stalks and about 1cm in diameter. Abundant.  Bird Island -  Acaena magellanica - Leaves  Bird Island -  Acaena magellanica - Flower  Bird Island -  Acaena magellanica - Detail
Acaena tenera (Lesser prickly burr) - Smaller and greener than the above, and generally growing a little higher up. The leaves are about as long as they are wide. The flower heads are on prostrate stalks and about 5mm in diameter. The detail shows the contrast between the two species. Frequent.  Bird Island -  Acaena tenera - Leaves  Bird Island -  Acaena tenera - Flower  Bird Island -  Acaena tenera - Detail
Acaena tenera x magellanica (Hybrid prickly burr) - The cross between the two species, which has the grey green colour of leaves of magellanica but the small flower heads, short stalks and leaf shape of tenera. Occasional where the two parents grow close together.    Bird Island -  Acaena tenera x magellanica - Flower  
Callitriche antarctica (Antarctic water-starwort) - Common in boggy areas and along stream banks. The flower is tiny and only has yellow stamens and anthers. Abundant.  Bird Island -  Callitriche antarctica - Leave  Bird Island -  Callitriche antarctica - Flower  
Colobanthus quitensis (Antarctic pearlwort) - Light green cushion forming plant of drier areas. It is one of only two flowering plants found in Antarctica, however the flowers are tiny. Frequent.  Bird Island -  Colobanthus quitensis - Leave  Bird Island -  Colobanthus quitensis - Flower  Bird Island -  Colobanthus quitensis - Detail
Colobanthus sublatus (Emerald bog) - Found in the wetter areas, but again generally cushion forming. The leaves are slightly broader and the cushion firmer and slightly more spikey, but the best way to tell them apart is from the flowers. In C. quitensis they stick out from the cushion, but in C. sublatus they are inside it. Frequent.    Bird Island -  Colobanthus sublatus - Flower  Bird Island -  Colobanthus sublatus - Detail
Deschampsia antarctica (Antarctic hair-grass) - The grass that forms the lawn of the meadows. It is the other flowering plant found in Antarctica. Frequent.  Bird Island -  Deschampsia antarctica - Leave  Bird Island -  Deschampsia antarctica - Flower  
Hymenophyllum falklandicum (Falkland filmy-fern) - Grows in rocky crevices. Small (leaves around 5mm across, with a prominent vein) and difficult to find - I initially found a couple of plants growing on the rocky bluffs at the top of Wanderer Valley, on the east side, but later found a whole bank at the base of a rocky scarp in the same area. Rare.  Bird Island -  Hymenophyllum falklandicum - Leave  Bird Island -  Hymenophyllum falklandicum - Flower  Bird Island -  Hymenophyllum falklandicum - Detail
Montia fontana (Water blinks) - A new addition to the flora, first reported on 2006 February 18 by Jon Shanklin. Found at the eastern end of Molly Meadows, where it is well established in several patches, the largest some 100m2 in area, mostly in association with D. antarctica. Locally frequent.    Bird Island -  Montia fontana - Flower  
Poa annua (Annual meadow-grass) - Another new addition to the flora, first reported on 2006 February 20 by Jon Shanklin. A single plant was found on the west side of North Valley, most likely carried to the island from the mainland of South Georgia by birds. Rare.  Bird Island -  Poa annua - Leave  Bird Island -  Poa annua - Flower  
Poa flabellata (Tussac-grass) - The dominant plant of the lower slopes of the Island. Formerly known as Parodiochloa flabellata. Dominant.  Bird Island -  Poa flabellata - Leave  Bird Island -  Poa flabellata - Flower  
Ranunculus biternatus (Antarctic buttercup) - Common in the damper areas of meadows. The flowers (small and off yellow) seem to come out at a different time to the leaves. Frequent.  Bird Island -  Ranunculus biternatus - Leave  Bird Island -  Ranunculus biternatus  - Flower  
Rostkovia magellanica (Short rush) - Found in some of the meadows. Occasional.  Bird Island - Rostkovia magellanica - Leave  Bird Island - Rostkovia magellanica - Flower