SPECIES: Azorella macquariensis — Macquarie Azorella, Macquarie Cushions

CLASSIFICATION: Critically endangered

Well I didn't know that a cushion plant was a thing, let alone this particular species is critically endangered. Endemic to Macquarie Island, off the coast of Tasmania, the Macquarie Azorella (or Cushion) is a species of cushion plant. It grows in 'mats', and comes in two distinct forms; hairy or non-hairy. They are found in a range of sizes, from a few cm to several metres and can grow up to 60cm in height. It also grows bisexual flowers and bears fruit. Adapted to survive during the winter months, the cushion turns brown and stops growing.

There's been a sudden decline of the Macquarie Cushion in recent years and it's a hard one to explain exactly what the cause of this is. With the Island being free of feral cats, rabbits are posing a quite a threat by grazing and scraping. Climate change is also being cited as a potential cause. If it does reach extinction, it will be sure to have a flow-on effect on the ecosystem.

Photo Nick Fitzgerald - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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