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Antarctic Forest

Climate: Maritime

Gunnera tinctoria
Gunnera tinctoria from Southern Chile and Argentina

Vast forests once spanned a region now better known for icebergs and penguins. Antarctic forests still exist in small pockets today in New Zealand, Tasmania and Chile. In these cool, temperate environments, mosses and ferns thrive in the wet conditions. A climate that is comfortable all year seems often seems like a fantasy in Minnesota, but there are a couple climates where it is true. These climates are also a fantasy land for plant species too!

With some of the most biodiverse floras and with ancient lineages of plants, these moderate climates are botanical wonders. These places occur in high elevations in the tropics (Cloud Forests) and along west coasts in warm temperate places (Maritime Climates). In both situations the weather rarely freezes, and even less frequently gets too hot. Because both of the climates share many features, we house our collections of these species in the same place, though they each contain their own oddities. Once part of a supercontinent, similar plants growing in these far-flung locations were used as biological evidence of continental drift.