Temporal range: 72–0 Ma Late Campanian–Present
|The roble beech (Nothofagus obliqua) from South America|
|The range of Nothofagus.|
Nothofagus, also known as the southern beeches, is a genus of 36 species of trees and shrubs native to the Southern Hemisphere in southern South America (Chile, Argentina) and Australasia (east and southeast Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and New Caledonia). The species are ecological dominants in many temperate forests in these regions. Some species are reportedly naturalized in Germany and Great Britain. The genus has a rich fossil record of leaves, cupules and pollen, with fossils extending into the late Cretaceous and occurring in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and South America. Fossils have recently been found in Antarctica. 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 their own family, the Nothofagaceae (literally meaning "false beeches" or "bastard beeches").
Many individual trees are extremely old, and at one time, some populations were thought to be unable to reproduce in present-day conditions at the location where they were growing, except by suckering (clonal reproduction), being remnant forest from a cooler time. Sexual reproduction has since been shown to be possible, but distribution in cool, isolated, high-altitude environments at temperate and tropical latitudes is consistent with the theory that the genus was more prolific in a cooler age.
The genus is classified in these sections:
- Sect. Brassospora (type Nothofagus brassi)
- Nothofagus aequilateralis (New Caledonia)
- Nothofagus balansae (New Caledonia)
- Nothofagus baumanniae (New Caledonia)
- Nothofagus brassii (New Guinea)
- Nothofagus carrii (New Guinea)
- Nothofagus codonandra (New Caledonia)
- Nothofagus crenata (New Guinea)
- Nothofagus discoidea (New Caledonia)
- Nothofagus flaviramea (New Guinea)
- Nothofagus grandis (New Guinea)
- Nothofagus nuda (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 (New Guinea)
- Nothofagus womersleyi (New Guinea)
- Nothofagus mucronata (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Nothofagus serrata (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Nothofagus balfourensis (extinct) (Tasmania, Late Oligocene-Early Miocene)
- Nothofagus cooksoniae (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Nothofagus peduncularis (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Nothofagus robusta (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Nothofagus smithtonensis (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Nothofagus palustris (extinct) (New Zealand, Late Oligocene-Early Miocene)
- Sect. Fuscospora (type Nothofagus fusca)
- Nothofagus alessandri (Central Chile)
- Nothofagus fusca (New Zealand)
- Nothofagus gunnii (Australia: Tasmania)
- Nothofagus solandri (New Zealand)
- Nothofagus truncata (New Zealand)
- Nothofagus cethanica (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Sect. Lophozonia (type Nothofagus menziesii)
- Nothofagus alpina (=N. procera) (Central Chile/Argentina)
- Nothofagus cunninghamii (Australia: Victoria, Tasmania)
- Nothofagus glauca (Central Chile)
- Nothofagus macrocarpa (Central Chile, prov. Argentina)
- Nothofagus menziesii (New Zealand)
- Nothofagus moorei (Australia: New South Wales, Queensland)
- Nothofagus obliqua (Chile/Argentina)
- Nothofagus smithtonensis (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Nothofagus muelleri (extinct) (New South Wales, Late Eocene)
- Nothofagus novae-zealandiae (extinct) (New Zealand, Mid-Late Miocene)
- Nothofagus pachyphylla (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Pleistocene)
- Nothofagus tasmanica (extinct) (Tasmania, Eocene - Early Oligocene)
- Sect. Nothofagus (type Nothofagus antarctica)
- Nothofagus antarctica (Southern Argentina and Chile)
- Nothofagus betuloides (Southern Argentina and Chile)
- Nothofagus dombeyi (Central Chile and Andean Patagonia-Argentina)
- Nothofagus nitida (Southern Chile and probably Argentina)
- Nothofagus pumilio (Argentina/Chile)
- Nothofagus lobata (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Nothofagus bulbosa (extinct) (Tasmania, Early Oligocene)
- Section uncertain
- Nothofagus beardmorensis (extinct) (Antarctica, either ~3 million or ~15 million years old), see Antarctica#Neogene Period (23–0.05 mya)
It was recently proposed that the generic classification of the Nothofagaceae should be revised, with the four subgenera elevated to full genera. This proposed change is not taxonomically essential and it remains to be seen if this work will gain wide acceptance.
The pattern of distribution around the southern Pacific Rim suggests the dissemination of the genus dates to the time when Antarctica, Australia, and South America were connected in a common land-mass or supercontinent referred to as Gondwana.
Every four to six years or so, Nothofagus produces a heavier crop of seeds and is known as the beech mast. In New Zealand, the beech mast causes an increase in the population of introduced mammals such as mice, rats, and stoats. When the rodent population collapses, the stoats begin to prey on native bird species, many of which are threatened with extinction. This phenomenon is covered in more detail in the article on stoats in New Zealand.
- Cyttaria, genus of ascomycete fungi found on or associated with Nothofagus
- Misodendron, specialist parasites of Nothofagus
- Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- Hill, Robert (2001). "Biogeography, evolution and palaeoecology of Nothofagus (Nothofagaceae): The contribution of the fossil record.". Australian Journal of Botany. doi:10.1071/BT00026.
- Li, H. M.; Zhou, Z. K. (2007). "Fossil nothofagaceous leaves from the Eocene of western Antarctica and their bearing on the origin, dispersal and systematics of Nothofagus". Science China Earth Sciences 50 (10): 1525–1535. doi:10.1007/s11430-007-0102-0.
- Manos, Paul (1997). "Phylogenetic analyses of 'higher' Hamamelididae based on plastid sequence data". American Journal of Botany.
- Dawson, J. W. (1966). "Observations on Nothofagus in New Caledonia". Tuatara 14 (1).
- Nothofagus website (in French)
- Neogene Period (23–0.05 mya)
- Nothofagus beardmorensis Nothofagaceae, a new species based on leaves from the Pliocene Sirius Group, Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica
- Heenan, P.B.; Smissen, R.D. 2013: Revised circumscription of Nothofagus and recognition of the segregate genera Fuscospora, Lophozonia, and Trisyngyne (Nothofagaceae). Phytotaxa, 146(1): 1-31. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.146.1.1
- 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.
- Native Forest Network (2003) Gondwana Forest Sanctuary
- C. Michael Hogan (2008) Chilean Wine Palm: Jubaea chilensis, GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. Nicklas Stromberg
- "Beech forest: Native plants". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
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