Nothofagaceae: southern beeches

Viridiophytes: green plants -> Embryophytes: Land plants -> Angiosperms: flowering plants -> Eudicots: buttercups, peas, pinks, cotton, carrots, and sunflowers -> Fagales: oaks, beech, birch, and walnuts

One of the most characteristic elements in southern hemisphere forests are the widely distributed southern beeches in the genus Nothofagus. They are either evergreen or deciduous trees that are wind pollinated, and the fruit is a nut that is not readily dispersed across great distances. Fossils dating back to the Cretaceous suggest that Gondwana was a centre of diversity for the genus. The microfossil record includes eight pollen types; four of which brassospora, fuscaspora, lophozonia, and nothofagus persist to the present day. The brassospora group found in New Guinea and New Caledonia is sister to the cool-temperate species in the nothofagus group (eg. Nothofagus antarctica, N. dombeyii) that are found in South America. The fuscaspora (e.g. N. fusca) group is sister to this larger clade and the branch leading to the lophozonia group (eg. N menziesii) diverges at the base of the phylogenetic tree. Estimates of divergence times from DNA sequences suggest that at least some of the disjunct distribution patterns result from recent long-distance dispersal.

Indigenous or exotic to New Zealand.

NZ Flora Web Site Link to the Ngā Tipu o Aotearoa Database

Cook, L. G.; Crisp, M. D. 2005: Not so ancient: the extant crown group Nothofagus represents a post-Gondwanan radiation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 272: 2535-2544.
Knapp, M.; Stöckler, K.; Havell, D.; Delsuc, F.; Sabstiani, F.; Lockhart, P. J. 2005: Relaxed molecular clock provides evidence for long-distance dispersal of Nothofagus (Southern Beech). PLoS Biology 3: in press.
Manos, P. S. 1997. Systematics of Nothofagus (Nothofagaceae) based on rRDA spacer sequences (ITS): taxonomic congruence with morphology and plastid sequences. American Journal of Botany 84: 1137-1155.
Martin, P.G.; Dowd, J. M. 1993: Using sequences of rbcL to study phylogeny and biogeography of Nothofagus species. Australian Systematic Botany 6: 441-447.
Setoguchi, H.; Ono, O.; Doi, Y.; Koyama, H.; Tsuda, M. 1997. Molecular phylogeny of Nothofagus (Nothofagaceae) based on the atpB-rbcL intergenic spacer of the chloroplast DNA. Journal of Plant Research 110: 469-484.
Swenson, U.; Backlund, A.; McLoughlin, S.; Hill, R. S. 2001: Nothofagus biogeography revisited with special emphasis on the enigmatic distribution of subgenus Brassospora in New Caledonia. Cladistics-The International Journal of the Willi Hennig Society 17(1 Part 1): 28-47.
Swenson, U.; Hill, R. S. 2001. Most parsimonious areagrams versus fossils: the case of Nothofagus (Nothofagaceae). Australian Journal of Botany 49: 367-376.
Swenson, U.; Hill, R. S.; McLoughlin, S. 2001. Biogeography of Nothofagus supports the sequence of Gondwana break-up. Taxon 50: 1025-1041.


Last updated: 05-Mar-2013