Found only on the Falkland Islands, the coastal nassauvia (Nassauvia gaudichaudii) is a widespread, low-growing plant. A woody perennial, the coastal nassauvia typically grows in compact cushions with clustered, upright stems. It may also grow in dense carpets than can measure a metre across, or in more open patches with the stems visible. The coastal nassauvia has closely overlapping, dark green leaves which are covered in small hairs, with a curved spine at the tip and stiff spines along the edges. In flower, the coastal nassauvia produces scatterings of small, cream-coloured daisies (2).
The coastal nassauvia flowers profusely between December and February (2)(3). Despite looking like a single flower, each daisy is actually an inflorescence, known as a ‘capitulum’, which is made up of five tiny, individual flowers called ‘florets’, that are surrounded by larger outer petals (2)(4).
The flowers of the coastal nassauvia have a ‘pump mechanism’ to present pollen to visiting pollinators. The style acts as the pump, with very small hairs at the tip of the style which collect the pollen, gradually pushing it up and out of the anther tube as it grows (4)(5).
The coastal nassauvia, as its name suggests, is predominantly found along the coast. It usually grows among low rocks, on firm sand and shingle above the high tide mark, and on cliffs or slopes to elevations of around 300 metres. It is also known to grow in low shrub heath, and occasionally on rocky and mineral-rich substrates in the uplands (1)(2)(3).
As part of the native flora of the Falkland Islands, the coastal nassauvia faces a range of threats. Historically, much of the Falklands' native flora was cleared for agriculture through grazing and burning, meaning that many native species now have restricted distributions across the island. In addition, introduced and invasive species and increasing levels of tourism are placing further pressure on native species (3)(6).
The coastal nassauvia will no doubt benefit from conservation programmes on the Falkland Islands which are currently focusing on protecting plant species and mitigating the threats to their survival (7). The Falklands Islands Plant Conservation Project, with assistance from Falklands Conservation, is developing a strategy for the long-term conservation of the islands’ threatened flora, with plans for sustainable land management and protection. Public education projects are also aiming to tackle human disturbances to natural environments (8).
ARKive is supported by OTEP, a joint programme of funding from the UK FCO and DFID which provides support to address priority environmental issues in the Overseas Territories, and Defra
Part of the stamen (the male reproductive organ of a flower) that produces pollen.
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
A plant that normally lives for more than two seasons. After an initial period, the plant produces flowers once a year.
Animals that in the act of visiting a plant’s flowers transfer pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
An elongated part of the female reproductive organs of a flower that bears the stigma (the receptive area where pollen germinates), usually at its tip.
Woods, R.W. (2000) Flowering Plants of the Falkland Islands. Falklands Conservation, The Falkland Islands.
Broughton, D.A. and McAdam, J.H. (2005) A checklist of the native vascular flora of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas): new information on the species present, their ecology, status and distribution. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 132: 115-148.
Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Katinas, L., Pruski, J., Sancho, G. and Tellería, M.C. (2008) The Subfamily Mutisioideae (Asteraceae). Botanical Review, 74: 469-716.
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