Mountain Beech

Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides

Mountain Beech


Mountain Beech is a medium-sized tree that can grow up to 25 metres in height, with a trunk diameter of up to 1 metre. It has a dense canopy and dark green leaves that turn golden-yellow in autumn before they fall. The bark is dark brown and rough, with deep fissures.


Mountain Beech is found in the subalpine and alpine areas of the South Island of New Zealand. It prefers well-drained soils and can tolerate cooler temperatures.

Cultural Importance

Mountain Beech is not traditionally significant to Māori culture but has a vital role in the ecosystem and supports various species.

Ecological Role

Mountain Beech plays a crucial role in the ecosystem by providing habitat and food for a range of native species, including birds and insects. It also helps to stabilise the soil and prevent erosion in alpine areas.

Associated Birds

Kākā: Kākā are large, charismatic parrots that inhabit Mountain Beech forests. They have a mix of green and red plumage, and their loud calls can be heard echoing through the forest.

Rifleman: Tītipounamu, also known as Rifleman, are one of New Zealand's smallest birds. They are often found foraging in Mountain Beech forests, searching for insects and spiders in the tree bark and foliage.

Fantail: Pīwakawaka, or Fantails, are agile birds with a fan-shaped tail. They are commonly seen in Mountain Beech forests, where they flutter and flick their tail while hunting insects.

Kererū: Kererū are large, fruit-eating pigeons that play an important role in dispersing seeds of Mountain Beech trees. They have a distinctive green and white plumage and a deep, resonant call.

Tūī: Tūī are medium-sized honeyeaters known for their iridescent plumage and unique vocalizations. They can be seen visiting Mountain Beech trees for their nectar, contributing to pollination.

Tomtit: Tomtits are small birds with a distinctive black and white plumage pattern. They are skilled insectivores and can be found foraging in Mountain Beech forests, searching for insects and spiders on tree trunks and branches.

Conservation status

Mountain Beech is not currently classified as a threatened species. However, it is susceptible to browsing by introduced mammals such as deer and possums, which can significantly impact its regeneration.

Interesting Facts

  • Mountain Beech is one of five species of beech trees native to New Zealand.
  • The leaves of Mountain Beech are an important food source for the caterpillars of several native moth species.
  • Mountain Beech forests are also important for their water storage capacity, which helps to regulate river flows and maintain water quality.

Conservation Tips

To help conserve Mountain Beech and its associated ecosystem, controlling the browsing of introduced mammals in the area is essential. Supporting and participating in local conservation efforts can also contribute to protecting this vital ecosystem.