Antarctic pearlwort

2024 CEAntarctica

Antarctic pearlwort "is one of two native flowering plants found in the Antarctic region. It occurs on the continental edge, as well as the South Orkney Islands and the South Shetland Islands. It has yellow flowers and grows about 5 cm (two inches) tall, with a cushion-like growth habit that gives it a moss-like appearance." Due to the absence of bees and birds in its habitat, the Antarctic pearlwort relies on wind for pollination. TThe species has experienced a rapid increase, growing five times faster between 2009 and 2018. This growth surge is attributed to rising Antarctic temperatures and a decline in fur seal populations, which previously kept the plant numbers low by trampling them.

"Antarctic Pearlwort," iNaturalist. Caitlyn Bishop, "The Plants of Antarctica," Ocean Wide Blog. Elizabeth Gamillo, "Warming Temperatures Are Turning Antarctica Green," Smithsonian Magazine, February 18, 2022.

Image: Liam Quinn, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons