There is actually only one single chemical mammal on the islands, the Pacific
rat. This was once brought to the islands by the Maoris and has now become a
nuisance. Larger land mammals do not occur here.
The most common reptiles are skinks and geckos, but turtles are also found on
the islands. The green turtle is found on Henderson Island, and the green sea
turtle also visits the beaches of this island to lay eggs. Venomous snakes do
not live here
addition to insects, birds are the most species-rich group on the islands, with
many, including endemic species, threatened with extinction. This includes the
Pitcairn warbler, an endemic land bird from the warbler family, which is the
smallest bird on Henderson Island. Other endemic land birds are the black and
gray Tuamotus moorhen, the Henderson pigeon and the Henderson lory. Numerous sea
birds such as the fairy terns, frigate birds, curlews and red-footed boobies
nest on the sea cliffs.
butterflies are the most striking group on the islands in terms of size. But
there are also many other groups of insects, such as jumpers and beetles, of
which there are two endemic species.
Some of the Pitcairn Islands are completely surrounded by coral reef, which
offers a unique habitat for numerous fish and other underwater
residents. There are particularly many mollusks here, but lobsters, lobsters,
moray eels and the red snapper are also among the reef residents, along with
reef sharks. The deep sea fish include sea bream, tuna, sharks and the rare
marlin. Once a year the humpback whales pass by the islands and sperm whales
have also been spotted here.
The most common trees on the islands are pandanus trees, the leaves of which
are often used to make wattle. In German they are known as “screw palm”, which
describes the arrangement of their sharply sawn leaves. It forms aerial roots on
the lower part of the trunk. The fruits are spherical and consist of hundreds of
individual fruits. In some species (630 in total) of the screw palm you can eat
the fleshy part of the fruit cluster. On the lower part of the trunk, the trees
form strong aerial roots, which gives the impression that the tree is standing
The "Sharkwood Tree" (Homalyium taypau) is endemic (only occurs on these
islands) and dominates the mountain rainforests on Pitcairn. The residents use
the wood of this tree to make the popular carvings, often in the form of sharks
Coconut palms are particularly widespread in the coastal area, on Henderson
Island they occur together with the pandanus trees mainly on the north and west
coasts. Other tree species belong to the sandalwood and ironwoods, such as the
Pitcairn is the only inhabited island in the Pitcairn Islands, so crops that
include citrus fruits, bananas, melons and pineapples as well as sweet potatoes,
yams and breadfruit are grown exclusively here. Yams (also called taro) is a
tuberous plant that belongs to the arum family and forms perennial, up to 2 m
high bushes with an upright growth. Their heart-shaped leaves are dark green
with a fine white coating and often have a diameter of 60 cm. The tuberous,
thickened roots are mainly used, and are prepared like potatoes. But young taro
leaves are also eaten as a vegetable.
Coconuts, papayas and guyavas are also important crops on the island.
What is striking about Henderson Island is that most of the plants found here
are endemic, including the Bidens methewsii, a daisy family that thrives on the
cliffs of the south and west coasts. The worm fern family Ctentis cumingii is
also endemic and at the same time severely threatened. Pereromia hendersonensis,
an endemic pepper plant, grows in the lighter areas of the forest. Ferns are
found in remote valleys and there is generally strong bush encroachment,
especially on Pitcairn, where human interference can be clearly felt.
On the two islands of Oeno and Ducie, the flora is much more sparse and is
mainly limited to vascular plants. The hibiscus is particularly common on all
the islands and grows almost everywhere.
Most of the plants native to the islands were once introduced. One of these
species is the rose apple, a 15 m tall myrtle bush that found its way from Asia
to the islands. Its green and actually more pear-shaped fruit has a light rose
scent, which is what gave the plant its name.