Canterbury’s gravelly outwash plains offer few of the natural deposits in which floral remains are typically preserved and hence represent a significant geographical gap in our knowledge about New Zealand’s pre-settlement terrestrial ecosystems and their response to anthropogenic activities. We contribute new insights into the poorly known Holocene vegetation history of this region by reporting two new mid-late Holocene pollen records from the western (Hallsbush) and eastern (Travis Swamp) margins of the Canterbury Plains.
New Zealand bracken (Pteridium esculentum) belongs to a group of closely related fern species of near global extent. Pteridium species worldwide are aggressive, highly productive, seral plants, functionally more akin to shrubs than ferns. Their deeply buried starch-rich rhizomes allow them to survive repeated fire and their efficient nutrient uptake permits exploitation of a wide range of soils. They are limited by cool annual temperatures, frost, wind, and shallow, poorly drained and acidic soils.