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Forest Vines to Snow Tussocks: The Story of New Zealand Plants


The second major forest type88 in New Zealand provides a strong contrast to the conifer broadleaf forest. It is dominated in the canopy or forest 'roof' by one or more species of southern beech (Nothojagus),89 a genus restricted to the southern hemisphere, but nevertheless related to the oaks and true beeches (Fagus) of the northern hemisphere. Fagus and Nothofagus are largely distinguished by flower and fruit characteristics, but in addition the New Zealand species of Nothojagus, and a number elsewhere, differ from Fagus in being evergreen and having much smaller leaves. However, despite the clear differences between the two genera, it has become customary in New Zealand to refer to our species as 'beech' without qualification.