New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands support a diverse and unique flora. Of particular interest are the megaherbs. These are plants with large leaves and colourful floral displays – completely different from their mainland counterparts. There are theories as to why these plants have evolved in this way – some suggest that having large leaves is an adaptive response to the climatic conditions found on the islands – cool, cloudy, and humid. The flowers with their bright colours are adapted to utilize the weak sunlight and short summer season, as well as attracting the pollinators.
This activity encourages students to take a closer look at the physical structures of megaherbs and to devise their own system for classifying them.