Key to New Zealand beech species

Nothofagus: Leaves small, entire or dentate, male flowers 1-3 on a short peduncle, female 1-3, minute, in a lobed involucre. Nuts in a scaly cupule.

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Dichotomous keys

Each numbered step offers 2 descriptive choices. By carefully observing the plant you wish to identify select the best choice from the 2 descriptions given and proceed to whichever step is indicated until the species name is found. The species name includes a description of the plant and its distribution.

Hints: Have a piece of the plant in front of you. A branch with the fruit is ideal. A hand lens will also be helpful. If you think you know the name of the plant try working backwards through the key, checking the descriptions along the way.

 

1.         Leaves entire with a smooth or almost smooth margin…………..2

            Leaves with a dentate margin     3


 

2.         Tree reaching 25m, but could be dwarf at higher altitudes. Leaves 1.5cm long elliptic –oblong to triangular, white tomentum beneath, cuneate base and rounded tip. Volcanic Plateau to Stewart Island ……………………..Nothofagus solandri var. solandri Black Beech

            Tree reaching 20m, but could be dwarf at higher altitudes. Bark smooth, branchlets often distichous. Leaves ovate–triangular, base oblique. Volcanic Plateau to Stewart Island at high elevations ………………………….Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides mountain Beech

 

3.         Leaves singly dentate ……………………………………………………………………….4
            Leaves bidentate. Tree to 30m., trunk often buttressed. Leaves 8-12 mm, broadly ovate or deltoid, coriaceous, domatia on abaxial surface. Te Aroha to Foveaux straight.......Nothofagus menzeseii Silver Beech

 

4.         Tree to 35m. Trunk often buttressed. Bark, thick, furrowed dark. Leaves 2.5-4cm. broadly ovate, coarsely and sharply toothed. 1 or 2 domatia on abaxial surface. Rotorua to Te Anau …………………………………………………………………………Nothofagus fusca Red beech.
           
Tree to 30m. Bark, thick, furrowed, and grey. Leaves 2.5-4cm. broadly ovate, coarsely and bluntly toothed. Kaitaia to Marlborough……………………… Nothofagus truncata hard beech.

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