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

Lowland Beech Forest

Lowland Beech Forest

Black beech and hard beech are often referred to as the lowland beeches because they are generally found in the same altitudinal zone as the conifer broadleaf forest. They reach their southern limits in the northern South Island, with a disjunct occurrence of hard beech in south Westland.

The lowland beeches generally do not become components of the conifer broadleaf forest, however, but form instead mainly narrow strips of forest on the thin, stony, infertile soils of ridge crests (Fig. 73) or cliff edges. Often the change from dense conifer broadleaf forest to open beech forest is very abrupt. In the steepest, stoniest and driest sites only black beech may be present94 but elsewhere the two species may intermingle or, on somewhat better soils, hard beech may predominate.