New-Caledonia & Pacific Islands
A little tropical forest
One trip in New Caledonia is enough to make you love this amazing island…. Plant diversity is remarkable and the range so very different from other regions. One is rendered speechless at every turn.
I had a great opportunity to explore this country guided by a young student who has become a great researcher botanist: Jean-Christophe Pintaud. He left us after an accident on August 10th, 2015.
Unfortunately, this astonishing vegetation is quite difficult to acclimatise in Corsica. New-Caledonian soils are mainly composed of two substrates: the shale and ultramafic rocks particularly rich in nickel and chromium but poor in nutrients essential to the growth of plants, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, or even potassium. Here, there is nothing of that at all but decomposed granite rocks….
Another problem remains the acquisition of plants. The Araucaria collection comes from seeds collected by Professor Dr. Morat, former Director of the National Museum of Natural History. In my garden Arecaceae failed to flourish on account of the conditions (too much summer heat and some lack of water, rodents, etc.). Only Kentiopsis oliviformis, Cyphophoenix elegans and, of course, the Chambeyronia macrocarpa have coped successfully.
The Pacific Islands have such beautiful and interesting vegetation that it ought to be represented in the garden so is more natural than to associate it with that of New-Caledonia!
The niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenerva) originating in New-Caledonia, but naturalized in many of the Pacific Islands, is a proper link between all these locations.