Nothofagus, also known as the southern beeches, is a genus of 35 species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s and shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s native to the temperate oceanic to tropical Southern Hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
The Southern Hemisphere is the part of Earth that lies south of the equator. The word hemisphere literally means 'half ball' or "half sphere"...

 in southern South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

) and Australasia
Australasia is a region of Oceania comprising Australia, New Zealand, the island of New Guinea, and neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term was coined by Charles de Brosses in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes...

 (east & southeast Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 and New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

). Fossils have recently been found in Antarctica.

In the past they were included in the family Fagaceae
The family Fagaceae, or beech family, comprises about 900 species of both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs, which are characterized by alternate simple leaves with pinnate venation, unisexual flowers in the form of catkins, and fruit in the form of cup-like nuts. Fagaceous leaves are often...

, but genetic tests by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group
The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, or APG, refers to an informal international group of systematic botanists who came together to try to establish a consensus on the taxonomy of flowering plants that would reflect new knowledge about plant relationships discovered through phylogenetic studies., three...

 revealed them to be genetically distinct, and they are now included in a family their own, the Nothofagaceae.

The leaves
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 are toothed or entire, evergreen
In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

 or deciduous
Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe...

. The fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 is a small, flattened or triangular nut
Nut (fruit)
A nut is a hard-shelled fruit of some plants having an indehiscent seed. While a wide variety of dried seeds and fruits are called nuts in English, only a certain number of them are considered by biologists to be true nuts...

, borne in cupules containing 2-7 nuts.

Nothofagus species are used as food plants by the larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

 of hepialid
The Hepialidae is a family of insects in the lepidopteran order. Moths of this family are often referred to as swift moths or ghost moths.-Taxonomy and systematics:...

A moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly, both being of the order Lepidoptera. Moths form the majority of this order; there are thought to be 150,000 to 250,000 different species of moth , with thousands of species yet to be described...

s of the genus Aenetus
Aenetus is a genus of moths of the family Hepialidae. There are 24 described species found in Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand. Most species have green or blue forewings and reddish hindwings but some are predominantly brown or white...

including A. eximia and A. virescens.

Many individuals are extremely old, and at one time it was believed that some populations could not reproduce in present-day conditions at the location where they were growing, except by sucker
Basal shoot
A basal shoot, root sprout, adventitious shoot, water sprout or sucker is a shoot or cane which grows from a bud at the base of a tree or shrub or from its roots. This shoot then becomes, or takes the form of, a singular plant. A plant that produces suckers is referred to as surculose...

ing (clonal reproduction
Asexual reproduction
Asexual reproduction is a mode of reproduction by which offspring arise from a single parent, and inherit the genes of that parent only, it is reproduction which does not involve meiosis, ploidy reduction, or fertilization. A more stringent definition is agamogenesis which is reproduction without...

), being remnant forest from a cooler time. It has since been shown that sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction is the creation of a new organism by combining the genetic material of two organisms. There are two main processes during sexual reproduction; they are: meiosis, involving the halving of the number of chromosomes; and fertilization, involving the fusion of two gametes and the...

 may occur, but distribution in cool, isolated high-altitude environments at temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 and tropical latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

s is consistent with the theory that the species was more prolific in a cooler age.


The genus is classified in the following sections:
Sect. Brassospora (type Nothofagus brassi)
  • Nothofagus aequilateralis (New Caledonia)
  • Nothofagus balansae (New Caledonia)
  • Nothofagus baumanniae
    Nothofagus baumanniae
    Nothofagus baumanniae is a species of plant in the Nothofagaceae family. It is endemic to New Caledonia.-References:* Jaffré, T. et al. 1998. . Downloaded on 22 August 2007....

    (New Caledonia)
  • Nothofagus brassii (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus carrii (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus codonandra (New Caledonia)
  • Nothofagus crenata (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus discoidea
    Nothofagus discoidea
    Nothofagus discoidea is a species of plant in the Nothofagaceae family. It is endemic to New Caledonia.-References:* Jaffré, T. et al. 1998. . Downloaded on 22 August 2007....

    (New Caledonia)
  • Nothofagus flaviramea (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus grandis (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus nuda
    Nothofagus nuda
    Nothofagus nuda is a species of plant in the Nothofagaceae family. It is endemic to Papua New Guinea. It is threatened by habitat loss.In 1927 Nothofagus nuda was reported by J.R. Croft to account for 949 deaths throughout Papua New Guinea...

    (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus perryi (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus pseudoresinosa (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus pullei (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus resinosa (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus rubra (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus starkenborghii (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus stylosa
    Nothofagus stylosa
    Nothofagus stylosa is a species of plant in the Nothofagaceae family. It is endemic to West Papua.It is an Vulnerable species threatened by habitat loss.-Source:...

    (New Guinea)
  • Nothofagus womersleyi
    Nothofagus womersleyi
    Nothofagus womersleyi is a species of plant in the Nothofagaceae family. It is endemic to West Papua .It is an Endangered species threatened by habitat loss.-Source:...

    (New Guinea)

Sect. Fuscospora (type Nothofagus fusca)
  • Nothofagus alessandri
    Nothofagus alessandri
    Nothofagus alessandri is a species of plant in the Fagaceae family. It is endemic to Chile. It is threatened by habitat loss. The species is protected within Los Ruiles National Reserve.-Description:...

    (Central Chile)
  • Nothofagus fusca
    Nothofagus fusca
    Nothofagus fusca is a species of Nothofagus, endemic to New Zealand, where it occurs on both the North Island and South Island. Generally it is found on lower hills and inland valley floors where soil is fertile and well drained.It is a medium-sized evergreen tree growing to 35 m tall...

    (New Zealand)
  • Nothofagus gunnii (Australia: Tasmania)
  • Nothofagus solandri
    Nothofagus solandri
    Nothofagus solandri is a species of Nothofagus, endemic to New Zealand, where it occurs on both the North Island and the South Island. There are two varieties, var. solandri, the New Zealand Black Beech, which occurs at low altitudes up to the mountains, and var...

    (New Zealand)
  • Nothofagus truncata
    Nothofagus truncata
    Nothofagus truncata or Hard Beech is a species of tree endemic to New Zealand. Its common name derives from the fact that its wood has a high silica content, making it hard and difficult to saw. Hard Beech is a tree up to 30m tall occurring in lowland and lower montane forest from lat...

    (New Zealand)

Sect. Lophozonia (type Nothofagus menziesii)
  • Nothofagus alpina
    Nothofagus alpina
    Nothofagus alpina also called Rauli Beech is a species of plant in the Fagaceae family. Deciduous tree, it grows in Chile and Argentina , it reaches 50 m height and more than 2 meters in diameter. Its distribution goes from 35 to 42° South latitude. It is found on the Andes...

    (=N. procera) (Central Chile/Argentina)
  • Nothofagus cunninghamii (Australia: Victoria, Tasmania)
  • Nothofagus glauca
    Nothofagus glauca
    Nothofagus glauca is a species of plant in the Nothofagaceae family. It is a tree endemic to Chile. It grows from 34° to 37° South latitude.-Description:...

    (Central Chile)
  • Nothofagus macrocarpa (Central Chile, prov. Argentina)
  • Nothofagus menziesii
    Nothofagus menziesii
    Nothofagus menziesii or Silver beech is a tree of the Nothofagus or southern beech genus endemic to New Zealand. Its common name probably comes from the fact that its bark is whitish in colour, particularly in younger specimens. It is found from Thames southwards in the North Island , and...

    (New Zealand)
  • Nothofagus moorei
    Nothofagus moorei
    Nothofagus moorei, is an important Gondwana relict of the rainforests of the southern hemisphere. It occurs in wet, fire free areas at high altitude in eastern Australia....

    (Australia: New South Wales, Queensland)
  • Nothofagus obliqua
    Nothofagus obliqua
    Nothofagus obliqua, is a deciduous tree from Chile and Argentina. It grows from 33 to 43° South Latitude, in Chile and Argentina. The northern extent of this tree's range in Chile is considered to be the Vizcachas Mountains and La Campana National Park.-Description:N...


Sect. Nothofagus (type Nothofagus antarctica)
  • Nothofagus antarctica
    Nothofagus antarctica
    Nothofagus antarctica , is a deciduous tree or shrub native to southern Chile and Argentina from about 36°S to Tierra del Fuego . The southernmost occurrence is on Hoste Island, making it the southernmost trees on earth...

    (Southern Argentina and Chile)
  • Nothofagus betuloides
    Nothofagus betuloides
    Nothofagus betuloides, the Magellan's beech and is sometimes known by the common name guindo, is native to southern Patagonia.In 1769 Sir Joseph Banks collected a specimen of the tree in Tierra del Fuego during Captain Cook's first voyage....

    (Southern Argentina and Chile)
  • Nothofagus dombeyi (Central Chile and Andean Patagonia-Argentina)
  • Nothofagus nitida
    Nothofagus nitida
    Nothofagus nitida is an evergreen tree, native from Chile and probably Argentina, it lives from 40° to Última Esperanza .-Description:...

    (Southern Chile and probably Argentina)
  • Nothofagus pumilio (Argentina/Chile)


The pattern of distribution around the southern Pacific rim
Pacific Rim
The Pacific Rim refers to places around the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The term "Pacific Basin" includes the Pacific Rim and islands in the Pacific Ocean...

 suggests that the dissemination of the genus dates to the time when Antarctica, Australia and South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 were connected, a common land-mass or supercontinent
In geology, a supercontinent is a landmass comprising more than one continental core, or craton. The assembly of cratons and accreted terranes that form Eurasia qualifies as a supercontinent today.-History:...

 referred to as Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...


In South America the northern genus limit can be construed as La Campana National Park
La Campana National Park
La Campana National Park is located in the Cordillera de la Costa, Quillota Province, in the Valparaíso Region of Chile. La Campana National Park and the Vizcachas Mountains lie northwest of Santiago...

 and the Vizcachas Mountains
Vizcachas Mountains
The Vizcachas Mountains are a mountainous landform northwest of Santiago, Chile. Part of the Vizcachas Range was incorporated into a protected area contiguous with La Campana National Park, under a recommendation made in 1993; this protection was applied to assist in maintaining biodiversity in a...

in the central part of Chile.
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