The Chine is famous for its flora and fauna. There are at least 150 varieties of wild plants and more than 50 species of moss and liverworts have so far been recorded, some of them extremely rare. Ferns, grasses, wild garlic, horsetails, golden saxifrage, wild fuchsia, winter-flowering heliotrope – to name but a few – all grow in profusion.
Gunnera manicata is native to the Serra do Mar mountains of south-eastern Brazil. It grows successfully in the Chine with leaves typically 1.5m to 3m wide, borne on thick, succulent leaf stalks up to 2.5m long. It germinates best in very moist, but not wet, conditions and temperatures of 22 to 29 °C.
Liverworts were the first plants able to live out of water but they still need very wet conditions; assured at the top end of the Chine by the continuous spray from the waterfall. Liverworts have no roots but are attached to the ground by numerous elongated cells, called rhizoids.
Mosses are very similar to liverworts but also have simple stems and small leaves.
Ferns are more advanced than mosses and liverworts as they have real roots and stems with vessels to carry water and food. They can live in much drier situations.
More detailed information about the flora can be found in the Nature Trail leaflet available at the Shanklin Chine office.
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