Nothofagus menziesii or Silver beech (Māori: tawhai) 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 (except Mount Taranaki/Egmont), and throughout the South Island. Silver beech is a forest tree up to 30 m tall. The trunk, which is often buttressed, may be up to 2 m in diameter. The leaves are small, thick and almost round in shape, 6 to 15 mm long and 5 to 15 mm wide with rounded teeth which usually occur in pairs, 1 or 2 hair fringed domatia are found on the underside of each leaf. Its Māori name is Tāwhai. It grows from low altitudes to the mountains.
Cultivation and uses
The wood is hard and is not durable outdoors and is used for furniture. The bark contains a black dye and tannin which is used for tanning leather.
- John Dawson and Rob Lucas "The Nature Guide to the New Zealand Forest", Godwit, 2000
- H.H. Allan, "Flora of New Zealand,volume 1",Government Printer, 1961
- J.T. Salmon, "A Field Guide to the Native Trees of New Zealand", Reed Methuen, 1986