Macquarie Island Cabbage is one of 3 main Megaherbs which grow on this windswept, cold and weather-battered island. With only an average of 5 sunny days a year plants have to be tough and resilient.
Stilbocarpa polaris, commonly known as the Macquarie Island Cabbage, is a species of flowering plant usually placed in the family Araliaceae. It is a megaherb, growing up to about a metre in height, native to the subantarctic islands of New Zealand and to Australia’s Macquarie Island. It was used as a food source and a scurvy preventative by early explorers and sealers. On Macquarie Island it is threatened by introduced Black Rats and European Rabbits.
Macquarie Island (or Macca) lies in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, about half-way between New Zealand and Antarctica, at 54°30S, 158°57E. Politically, it is part of Tasmania, Australia since 1900 and became a Tasmanian State Reserve in 1978.
The island is home to the entire Royal Penguin population on earth during their annual nesting season. Ecologically, it is part of the Antipodes Subantarctic Islands tundra ecoregion.
(Canon EOS, zoom lens.)
Since 1948 the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has maintained a permanent base, the Macquarie Island Station, on the isthmus at the northern end of the island at the foot of Wireless Hill. The population of the base, the island’s only human inhabitants, usually varies from 20 to 40 people over the year.
Macquarie Island is an exposed portion of the Macquarie Ridge, and is located where the Australian plate meets the Pacific plate. It is the only place in the world where rocks from the mantle are actively exposed at sea level. Due to this it was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997. Macquarie Island is one of the cloudiest places on Earth with an average of only 856 hours of sunshine per year. It has only about 5 actual sunny days oer annum. Plants rarely grow over 1 m in height, though the tussock-forming grass Poa foliosa can grow up to 2 m tall in sheltered areas.