Calling all gardeners, tree huggers and flower appreciators… Flora Week is taking root on beautiful Norfolk Island this September!
Packed with expert-guided botanical walks through Norfolk’s pristine landscape, presentations, social events and more, this is your chance discover one the world’s most important biodiversity hotpots alongside the people who know it best.
Botanist, ecologist, Norfolk plant expert (and our good mate) Dr Kevin Mills, who’ll be leading the week alongside the Wild Mob team, talks below about what makes Norfolk Islands flora so special. Take it away Kevin!
Norfolk Island is a tiny speck of volcanic rock in the vast western Pacific Ocean; Australia, the closest continent, is over 1,500 kilometres to the west. The closest lands are New Caledonia and New Zealand, both about 750 kilometres away. For some 2.5 million years, Norfolk Island has existed above the waves, its extent waxing and waning as sea levels rose and fell. Over this geologically short history, a unique ecosystem containing unique plants and animals has evolved.
Whether by wing, wind or wave, plants found their way to Norfolk Island. Very slowly, a green mantle of vegetation began to spread across the new land, culminating in the dense subtropical rainforest that grows on the island today.
The native plants on the island are a reflection of the floras of the closest lands; the result is that the rainforest is composed of subtropical and temperate species from lands to the west, north and south. Palms grow along side tree ferns and plants related to those in New Zealand are found in association with species shared with New Caledonia.
The rainforest on Norfolk Island is unique; neither the endemic species nor the combination of plant and animal species found on Norfolk occur anywhere else in the world. The isolation of the island in the middle of a large ocean, the subtropical latitude and the geographic location between Australia, New Zealand and the tropical islands to the north, were paramount in determining the character of the rainforest that was to evolve on Norfolk Island and that we see today. Like many islands, endemism is high, endemic plants accounting for about 24 percent of the total indigenous flora.
We’ll see you on Norfolk!
The week caters to plant aficionados looking for rare and endemic species, right through to the new nature lover wanting to learn more about some incredible habitats.