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Antarctic pearlwort Colobanthus quitensis

Colobanthus quitensis is one of only two flowering plants from the Antarctic continent. Only 1% of the Antarctic has been colonized by plants, as permanent ice and snow covers the majority of this wintery land.

There are no trees, and most of the other vegetation are from the lower plant groups (mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi). The other flowering plant is the Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia antarctica) and both are safe in the vaults of the Millennium Seed Bank.
 
This collection of the Antarctic pearlwort is from Livingstone Island, part of the South Shetland Islands, about 120 km north of the Antarctic Peninsula. It has tiny white/yellow flowers and grows about 5 cm tall, and in a cushion-forming group, with seedlings emerging usually in January and February.
 
Antarctica is a remarkable continent, frozen and windswept, remote, hostile and uninhabited. Under the Antarctic Treaty System, several international agreements are in place to protect its wildlife, such as penguins and seals, and its vegetation.
 
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