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Origin and Habitat: Nothofagus antarctica is native to southern Chile (O'Higgins and Magallan's regions) and Argentina from Neuquén (about 36°S) to Tierra del Fuego (56° S). Its occurrence on Hoste Island earns it the distinction of being the southernmost tree on earth.
Habitat and ecology: This species grows on well drained, moist to very moist, acidic to neutral, sandy to sandy-rich, moderately fertile soils, mainly in the diminishing temperate rainforest, with almost constant rainfall. Short dry periods are possible (generally not longer than 1 month). It is found at low altitude on coastal mountain, and in interior valleys on the Andes on slopes facing north at medium altitude, up to the timber line up to 2000 metres above sea level. It prefers sunny areas, warm temperatures and is only moderately frost hardy.
- Nothofagus antarctica (G.Forst.) Oerst.
Nothofagus antarctica (G.Forst.) Oerst.
Kongel. Danske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr., Naturvidensk. Math. Afd. Ser. V, ix. 354 (1871).
- Nothofagus antarctica (G.Forst.) Oerst.
- Fagus alpina Poepp. ex A.DC.
- Nothofagus antarctica var. latifolia Kurtz in Macloskie
- Fagus antarctica f. latifolia Kurtz ex Albov
- Nothofagus antarctica var. microphylla (Phil.) Reiche
- Nothofagus antarctica var. palustris Macloskie
- Nothofagus antarctica var. subalpina Macloskie
- Nothofagus antarctica var. sublobata (A.DC.) Reiche
- Fagus antarctica var. sublobata (A.DC.)
- Nothofagus antarctica var. uliginosa (A.DC.) Reiche
- Fagus antarctica var. uliginosa A.DC.
- Fagus uliginosa Phil. ex A.DC.
- Nothofagus uliginosa (A.DC.) Krasser
- Nothofagus montagnei (Hombr. & Jacquinot) Krasser
ENGLISH: Antarctic Beech
CATALAN (Català): Faig antàrtic
DANISH (Dansk): Antarktisk Sydbøg
FAROESE (Føroyskt): Antarktisk-Suðurbók
GERMAN (Deutsch): Antarktische Südbuche, Pfennigbuche
LITHUANIAN (Lietuvių): Antarktinis notofagas
MAPUCHE (Mapudungun): Ñire
QUECHUA (Runasimi / Qhichwa simi): Ñiri, Qitirna
RUSSIAN (Русский): Ньире, Нотофагус антарктический
SLOVAK (Slovenčina): Pabuk antarktický
SPANISH (Español): Ñire, Ñirre, Haya antártica
Description: Nothofagus antarctica (Antarctic Beech or Ñire) is an upright deciduous tree or shrub up to 35 m tall with a maximum circumference of 6 metres (typically 10–25 m tall, but at times reduced to the size of a small shrub in the dryer oriental valleys), often with multiple trunk. The tree has a delightfully crinkly appearance with an open, irregular crown, and will often fill out with an interesting twisted branch structure, very appealing during the leafless months.
Derivation of specific name: The specific epithet antarctica comes from Latin and means "south". It refers to the presence in the southern hemisphere. Nothofagus moorei, found in Australia, is also referred to as "Antarctic beech".
Stems: Trunks slender with brown or light green, rurrowed or scaly bark. The branches are “feathered” (arranged in two horizontal rows) and filled with bright conspicuous lenticels. The young shoots are smooth, green and red at the top.
Leaves: Simple, alternate and very dense, ovate, broadly ovate to triangular, crinkly, (5-)20-30(-45) nm long with a rounded tip, truncate to heart-shaped at the base, irregularly and minutely toothed, with 4-6 pairs of nerves. The leaf colour is medium to dark green, glabrous and turning yellow to orange or bronze in the autumn, often glossy, viscid, with a sweetly scented wax. The underside is slightly hairy on midrib.
Flowers: Inconspicuous yellow-green catkins. This species has separate male and female flowers on the same tree (monoecious).
Fruits: A very fragrant (3-)4-valved capsule ca. 6 mm long ,containing three small nuts.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Nothofagus antarctica group
Notes: The traditional name for this tree is “Ñire” which means fox in Mapuche language, (so called because these animals tend to burrow under them). In Tierra del Fuego the ñire is quite often found draped in tufts of Old Man’s Beard (Usnea barbata), a lichen whose name aptly describes its hairy, bedraggled look.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Wikipedia contributors. "Nothofagus antarctica." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Dec. 2014. Web. 18 April 2015.
2) Højgaard, A., J. Jóhansen, and S. Ødum (eds) “A century of tree planting in the Faroe Islands." Føroya Frodskaparfelag, Torshavn”1989
3) Donoso, C. “Árboles nativos de Chile. Guía de reconocimiento.” Edición 4. Marisa Cuneo Ediciones, Valdivia, Chile. 136p.2005.
4) Hoffmann, Adriana. “Flora Silvestre de Chile, Zona Central.” Edición 4. Fundación Claudio Gay, Santiago. 254p.1998
5) Hoffmann, Adriana “Flora silvestre de Chile zona araucana: Una guía ilustrada para la identificación de las especies de plantas leñosas del sur de Chile (entre el río Maule y el seno de Reloncaví).” Santiago: El Mercurio.1997
6) Rodríguez, R. & Quezada, M. “Fagaceae.” En C. Marticorena y R. Rodríguez [eds.], “Flora de Chile” Vol. 2(2), pp 64–76. Universidad de Concepción, Concepción. 2003.
Cultivation and Propagation: N. antarctica has been planted on the North Pacific Coast of the United States and in Great Britain where it thrives. Trees planted in the Faroes, which were imported directly from its southernmost distribution in Tierra del Fuego, have shown good hardiness.
Hardiness: USDA Hardiness Zone 7, even 6b. The plant tolerates low temperatures (-15° C even -20° C), it can be covered by snow for months (1 - 8 months).
Traditional uses: The wood is used mainly for firewood.
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