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Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands

Articles: Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands

A showy, red-fruited form of hopseed bush (Dodonaea viscosa) on Norfolk Island. Photographs by Donald Hodel, except as noted

Pacific Coast gardeners, especially those in California, are familiar with New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax), cow-itch tree (Lagunaria patersonii), Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla), hopseed bush (Dodonea viscosa), kentia palm (Howea forsteriana), shaving brush palm (Rhopalostylis baueri), and westringia (Westringia fruticosa). Yet few realize that these and a host of other plants—all suitable for cultivation in favored locales—originate on two littleknown Australian islands isolated in the South Pacific.

Norfolk and Lord Howe, about 950 and 450 miles, respectively, east of Australia at about 30° S latitude in the Tasman Sea, are the heavily eroded remnants of extinct volcanoes. They lie on parallel submarine ridges that, in ancient times, may have connected these islands with New Zealand and New Caledonia. Surrounded by cool, clear, blue green water dotted with coral reefs, both islands have a mild, moist, subtropical climate not too dissimilar from that of coastal Calif...

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