John Lendis mural The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart has been fortunate in receiving many examples of  the plants of Macquarie Island and since October 2000, a representative collection of species can be viewed in the Subantarctic Plant House. The project is a world first and this unique flora is displayed against a panoramic mural of Macquarie Island. Painted by renowned Tasmanian artist John Lendis, the mural reflects the rugged terrain and bleak beauty of the island and its vegetation.
The House itself measures 14 x 6 metres and has been designed in the shape of a tear drop, with high curving walls and a clear polycarbonate roof. Visitors to the House will experience chilled winds and fog! Internally it is cooled by piping cold water at ground level, together with air conditioning and fogging mist systems, enabling species to be studied under realistic conditions as part of a research project which seeks to understand the ecological processes and the environmental factors that govern subantarctic plant communities and species. The other partners in this project are the University of Queensland, Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and the Australian National Botanic Gardens (Canberra).  Cooling vents

Azorella macquariensis
           Azorella macquariensis
Interpretation of the island environment and plant species is a vital part of helping visitors to understand the nature of Macquarie Island and display plants include the famous Macquarie Island Cabbage (Stilbocarpus polaris) once used by the whalers to ward off scurvy, Poa foliosa, a grass tussock which can reach 2 metres tall and gives the Island its lush green appearance, and the hairy rush Luzula crinita. The Island, which has no tree or shrub layer, is home to cushion plants (Azorella macquariensis and Colobanthus sp.), grasses (Festuca contracta, Agrostissp .), and the fern ( Polystichum vestitum).The buzzy (Acaena magellanica) , whose seed heads stick to our socks here, also grows on Macquarie Island. The buttercup family is represented in the House in the form of Ranunculus crassipes.

The Heard Island plant Pringlea antiscorbutica is also on show. Although the Island's only orchid, the Helmet orchid (Corybas dienemus) is not yet on display, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens has a specimen in its collection. The new display house provides a fascinating glimpse of life on Macquarie Island; for most people it will be their only opportunity to look at real "down under" flora.

Pringlea antiscorbutica
     Heard Island Pringlea
Corybas dienemus

             Nematoceras dienemus  (Helmet Orchid)


The Australian Plants Society would like to thank the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens for their kind co-operation in the preparation of this item.

Special thanks to M. Fountain and M. Brown of  the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Hobart