The 2015 Winter Speaker Series had an excellent start with a fascinating talk by Aaron Russ, General Manager of Wild Earth Travel.

Describing himself as a zoologist cum geologist turned botanist and eco tourist Aaron explained that travelling south from New Zealand is equivalent to gaining height in terms of flora survival. He took us on a tour of the Snare Islands, Auckland and Campbell Islands and compared the flora in this sub-antarctic region with the much more stunted and less colourful flora in northern Russia near Bering Straight.

Due to the lack of sustained human habitation the mega-herbs in the sub-antarctic region have never been given anglicised names and are known only by their Latin names. One prominent species prevalent on the Auckland Islands – Pleurophyllum – has produced three distinct variants with each one existing within a narrow but clearly delineated altitude range. Pictured are Pleurophyllum criniferum which occupies the sea level to 200 metre range, Pleurophyllum speciosum grows in a 200-300 metre range and then Pleurophyllum hookeri lives in the 300-600 metre range.

One intriguing fact to emerge is that a Sitka Spruce, which was planted in 1907 by Lord Ranfurly during the Canterbury Philosophical Society Expedition now holds the Guinness Book of Record for being the “loneliest tree on the planet”.  Aaron’s company is planning a trip to the sub-antarctic islands in early January next year and is preparing a special offer for CHS members which we’ll pass on when it comes to hand.

If Aaron’s talk sparked an interest in sub-antartic flora then you may like to join him on one of two forthcoming voyages with Wild Earth Travel, Forgotten Islands of the South Pacific & Sub-antarctic Islands: In Focus.

Aaron is pleased to offer CHS Members a 10% discount on the advertised prices. Please contact the CHS office if you wish to take up this generous discount.