Nothofagus is a genus of trees and shrubs in the family Nothofagaceae, comprising 35 species. It is native to the temperate oceanic to tropical southern Hemisphere in southern South America and Australasia. It is commonly known as Southern Beech.
Nothofagus is an deciduous or evergreen tree, with leaves that are toothed or entire. The fruit is a small, flattened or triangular nut, borne in cupulus containing 2-7 nuts. Larvae of hepialid moths of the genus Aenetus including A. eximia and A, virescens used Nothofagus species as food plants.
Nothofagus makes an ideal ornamental tree due to its fast growing and very attractive habit of growth, with good autumn color. It will not grow in chalky soil and it will not do well in exposed positions.
Nothofagus antarctica ( Antarctica Beech) 25 x 10 m tall, is a deciduous tree or shrub native to southern Chile and Argentina. It has slender trunk with attractive scaly bark. The leaves are simple and alternate, 2 - 4.5 cm long, and often viscid, with a sweetly scented wax. The dark green, heart-shaped leaves which are glossy and crinkled at the edges, turn yellow then orange in autumn. Its flowers are inconspicuous yellow-green catkins. The fruit is a very fragrant, 4-valved capsule containing three small nuts.
Nothofagus menziesii is a tree endemic to New Zealand, grows from low latitudes to the mountains. It is also known also Silver Beech which may have come from the fact that its bark is whitish in color, particularly in younger specimens. The trees can grow to 15 x 8 m, with trunk which is buttressed, and may be up to 2 m in diameter. The leaves are small, thick, and almost round in shape with rounded teeth which usually occurs in pairs. The wood is hard but not durable outdoors and is usually used to make furniture. The bark contains a black dye and tamin which is used for tanning leather.
Nothofagus fusca (New Zealand Red Beech) is a species endemic to New Zealand, where it occurs on both north and South Island. It grows in low altitudes to the mountains. It is an evergreen tree growing to 35 m tall. Its leaves are alternate, broad ovoid, with margin distinctively double-toothed with each lobe bearing two teeth. The fruit is a small cupule containing three seeds.
N. obliqua (Roble Beech), 20 x 15 m , is a fast growing deciduous tree. It has dark green leaves that are blue-green underneath and toothed edges. The leaves turn yellow, orange, or red in autumn.
Plant Nothofagus in full sun, in moisture-retentive but well-drained, acid soil. Propagation is by seed in autumn.