Colobanthus quitensis

Colobanthus quitensis, the Antarctic pearlwort, is one of two native flowering plants found in the Antarctic region.[2] It has yellow flowers and grows about 5 cm (two inches) tall, with a cushion-like growth habit that gives it a moss-like appearance.

Colobanthus quitensis
Antarctic pearlwort at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Colobanthus
C. quitensis
Binomial name
Colobanthus quitensis
  • Colobanthus alatus Pax
  • Colobanthus aretioides Gillies ex Hook.
  • Colobanthus billardieri Fenzl
  • Colobanthus cherlerioides Hook.f.
  • Colobanthus crassifolius (d'Urv.) Hook.f.
  • Colobanthus maclovianus Gand.
  • Colobanthus meingeni Phil.
  • Colobanthus saginoides Bartl.
  • Sagina crassifolia d'Urv.
  • Sagina graminifolia Wedd.
  • Sagina magellanica Willd. ex F.Phil.
  • Sagina quitensis Kunth


It is found on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, on South Georgia, South Shetland and the Falklands, and in the Andes, becoming increasingly rare northwards, but reaching Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, with a further isolated population in Mexico.[3]

Climate change

Within Antarctica, due to climate change, more seeds are germinating, creating a large number of seedlings and plants. Reports indicate a fivefold increase in these plants, which have extended their ranges southward and cover more extensive areas, wherever found. Deschampsia antarctica (Antarctic hairgrass) is the only other native flowering plant in the region.[4]


  1. "Colobanthus quitensis". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  2. Kozeretska, Iryna (2005), THE HERBARIUM OF ANTARCTIC VASCULAR PLANTS, National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv, retrieved 9 February 2015
  3. Colobanthus quitensis at
  4. Rudolph, E. D. (Apr 1965), "Antarctic Lichens and Vascular Plants: Their Significance", BioScience, American Institute of Biological Sciences, 15 (4): 285–287, doi:10.2307/1293425, JSTOR 1293425