Antarctic hair grass

2024 CEAntarctica

Antarctic hair grass is one of the two flowering plants that thrive in the soil of Antarctica. "Antarctic hair grass (Deschamsia antarctica) grows primarily in the Antarctic Peninsula in small, concentrated tufts throughout rocky areas. These plants are most commonly seen amongst penguin colonies, and can withstand high amounts of disturbance without withering away. During their short growing period in summer, they must endure quite a bit of abuse from, the incautious nature of elephant seals, high wind speeds, and the many tonnes of penguin manure that are produced from the breeding colonies. Still, they stand strong at less than a foot in diameter. Their complex and deep root system keeps them well anchored within their habitats, and allows them to easily absorb water and nutrients from their environment. In the wintertime, the hair grass looses its long, slender, green leaves, and can withstand freezing temperatures without completely dying." Recent studies reveal a surge in Antarctic hair grass, with growth since 2009 surpassing the combined total of the previous 50 years. This increase is attributed to rising temperatures and a decline in fur seal populations.

Caitlyn Bishop, "The Plants of Antarctica," Ocean Wide Blog.

Phoebe Weston, "Study Finds Antarctic Plants Are Thriving. That Could Be a Problem." Mother Jones, February 15, 2022.

Image: Lomvi2, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons