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Shoots, leaves, and cupules of N. obliqua
N. alpina, rauli beech

Nothofagus, also known as the southern beeches, is a genus of about 35 species of trees and shrubs native to the temperate oceanic to tropical Southern Hemispheremarker in southern South America (Chilemarker, Argentinamarker) and Australasia (east & southeast Australia, Tasmaniamarker, New Zealandmarker, New Guineamarker and New Caledoniamarker). Fossils have recently been found in Antarcticamarker.

In the past they were included in the family Fagaceae, but genetic tests by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group revealed them to be genetically distinct, and they are now included in a family their own, the Nothofagaceae.

The leaves are toothed or entire, evergreen or deciduous. The fruit is a small, flattened or triangular nut, borne in cupules containing 2-7 nuts.

Nothofagus species are used as food plants by the larva of hepialid moths of the genus Aenetus 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 suckering (clonal reproduction), being remnant forest from a cooler time. It has since been shown that sexual reproduction may occur [56696], but distribution in cool, isolated high-altitude environments at temperate and tropical latitudes 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)

Sect. Fuscospora (type Nothofagus fusca)

Sect. Lophozonia (type Nothofagus menziesii)

Sect. Nothofagus (type Nothofagus antarctica)


The pattern of distribution around the southern Pacific rim suggests that the dissemination of the genus dates to the time when Antarcticamarker, Australia and South America were connected, a common land-mass referred to as Gondwanaland.

In South America the northern genus limit can be construed as La Campana National Parkmarker and the Vizcachas Mountains in the central part of Chile.


  1. H.M. Li and Z.K. Zhou {2007) Fossil nothofagaceous leaves from the Eocene of western Antarctica and their bearing on the origin, dispersal and systematics of Nothofagus. Science in China. 50(10): 1525-1535.
  2. J. W. Dawson (1966) Observations on Nothofagus in New Caledonia, Tuatara: Volume 14, Issue 1, April 1966
  3. Nothofagus website (in French)
  4. Native Forest Network (2003) Gondwana Forest Sanctuary
  5. C. Michael Hogan (2008) Chilean Wine Palm: Jubaea chilensis,, ed. Nicklas Stromberg

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