The Myrtle Beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii is one of the ancient tree species of the cooler parts of Australia that evolved well before Eucalypts. This is but one of a number of Antarctic Beech trees (both evergreen and deciduous) native to Australia, New Zealand and Chile.
Despite its common name, it is not related to the Myrtles at all, but related to the Beech and Birch trees of the Northern Hemisphere and was once included in the Fagaceæ family.
It is not commonly seen outside of Tasmania (where they are used for timber) and the wet sub-alpine forests on the NSW/Victorian border, so it was lovely to stumble on this tall specimen in a park near me (these were taken with my camera phone: sorry about the quality).
It has beautiful, small glossy green leaves.
These trees are evergreen, but are quite hardy – they are grown in Scotland, Ireland and the UK. In Australia easily survive frosts of -15°C/5°F (USDA zone 7). They like deep soils and cool summers with relatively high, evenly distributed rainfall. In the right conditions they can reach 40m, but tend to be a more manageable 15m in cultivation.
They propagate only from seed; cuttings almost always fail to strike, so I will be keeping my eye out for when this tree starts to produce catkins and seed pods.
Happy gardening 🙂