Tussac Islands, small islands Falkland Islands



  • tussac

There are around 270 islets around the Falklands that are are either covered with or hold some tussac grass Poa flabellata.

Growing up to 3m high, bogs of  tussac grow higher as new growth rises out of a bog of dead leaves and is perhaps the best natural shelter the Falklands has to offer. The long narrow green leaves themselves may grow up to 2m long forming a dense plume of leaves above the bog pedestal which may be hundreds of years old. It is tolerant to salt, thriving in a maritime environment, and benefits from the nutrients of bird excrement.

Tussac grass is an important for habitat for small birds, insects, owls and seals. Originally tussac fringed the Falklands' coasts but as the islands populated, sealers burned it to flush out sea lions or put pigs or even goats on islands as a ready source of meat. Domestic livestock arrived, the tussac bogs were destroyed and is now tussac is mainly reduced to smaller uninhabited islands.

If conveniently situated tussac from these small islands can be cut for winter fodder for cattle, this was extremely important in the past. Carefully managed it quickly grows again. Horses and cattle are sometimes wintered on islands.

Kidney Island is a typical example of a tussac island.


Some plants that may grow between the pedestals where the tussac peat has eroded to give bare surfaces.

tussac grass Tussac Grass Poa flabellata marram sand grass Marram 'Sand' Grass Ammophila arenaria
wild celery Wild Celery Apium australe strawberry Falklands Strawberry Rubus geoides
thrift Falklands Thrift Armeria macloviana ssmooth ragwort Falkland Smooth Ragwort Senecio vaginatus
bead plant Bead Plant Nertera granadenis Lesser sea-spurrey Spergularia marina

Birds that might be seen in tussac:

striated caracara johnny rook Striated Caracara Phalcoboenus australis magellanic penguins Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus
short eared owl Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus grass wren Grass Wren (Short-billed Marsh Wren) Cistothorus platensis falklandicus
tussac bird Tussac Bird Cinclodes antarcticus antarcticus southern house wren, cobbs wren Cobb's Wren (Southern House Wren) Troglodytes aëdon cobbi

Other residents that might be in tussac:

SOUTH AMERICAN SEA LION Otaria flavescens    

Can you add/ correct any information or supply photographs or information , past or present/ life/ people/ buildings? Contact: falklands.southatlantic@gmail.com
Sources include: Falkland Rural Heritage- Joan Spruce with Natalie Smith, nationalarchives.gov.fk/Jane Cameron National Archives/ Land/ buildings,
Photographic credits: Robert Maddocks, Ali Marsh, Russ Evans


  • Tussac-and-Dom-Pernety
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