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The Falklands flora is not very diversified. The isles form a wild dry archipelago which is half pampa and half Ireland. Pasturage land or moors form 90% of the land. The vegetation is restricted to wild grasses and heaths. There are practically no trees on the isles and the only ones seen have all been planted by man and carefully cultivated. Hedges of gorse protect the habitations from the wind and provide refuges for numerous species of bird. These small bushes with bright yellow flowers break the monotony of the greenness of the pastures. On the coast the vegetation is a little more diverse: several flowers, grass plants, rushes, mosses and diverse herbaceous plants.

One of the only real specialities of the Falklands flora is doubtlessly the tussock, a kind of tall grass whose base forms a sort of turf of peat. It may be as tall as 2 metres. The tussock fields form real labyrinths. It is the ideal place for a great number of animals who find in its tangles very good protection. Giant petrels, magellanic penguins, straited caracara, turkey vulture, ducks and geese seek refuge or build their nests there. For man, if it is amusing to try to open up a way through this jungle, it can rapidly become hard and almost irritating. A kilometre through a tussock field may easily take an hour and much longer if you lose direction.

Another Falklands flora characteristic is a sea plant named kelp. It is seen everywhere around the isles and this algae may have different forms, shaped and tinted according to the place and depth where it is found. Some are real underwater trees (Kelp trees) with a trunk and branches which are very robust. Others have pneumatocysts, small gas-filled bladders, allowing them to deploy themselves to a height of more than 30 metres (Giant kelp). They usually form a large belt of one or two hundred metres in width but may reach in certain regions more than a kilometre. Diving in this universe (see "diving" heading) allows appreciation of the impressive density of the underwater flora and provides unforgettable moments.

Text: © Michel Chabod   •   Photos: © Fabrice Bettex / Mysterra






 
Falkland Islands picture - Flora

Falkland Islands picture - Flora

Falkland Islands picture - Flora

Falkland Islands picture - Flora

Falkland Islands picture - Flora

Falkland Islands picture - Flora

Falkland Islands picture - Flora
       
       
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