Fuscospora cliffortioides

Common Name(s)

Mountain beech

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Fucospora cliffortioides (Hook.f.) Heenan et Smissen



Brief Description

Very common forest canopy tree in drier upland areas bearing small leathery leaves arranged along the twig and that are pale underneath and with incurved margins. Leaves 10-15mm long, appearing pointed. Flowers and fruits inconspicuous, but these and new leaf growth can change a trees colour.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Fagus cliffortioides Hook.f., Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides (Hook.f.) Poole, Nothofagus cliffortioides (Hook. f.) Oerst.


Endemic. North, South Islands. Common from the Central Volcanic Plateau and adjacent main axial ranges of the North Island south.


Montane forest and subalpine forest and scrub. Often forming a dense, almost monospecific forest especially along the main North Island axial ranges and along the drier, eastern side of the South Island.

Similar Taxa

Morphologically very similar to black beech (Fuscospora solandri) from which it differs by the ovate leaves with acute to subacute apices, obscure leaf venation and by the glabrous ovary of the flower. Appears to prefer drier conditions than black beech, and has a greater altitudinal range, though it is often sympatric with black beech.


November - January

Flower Colours

Red / Pink


February - April

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed, Cuttings are very difficult to strike. Young plants are very quick growing but do best in cool climates.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 26

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Commonly cultivated in suitable climates. Frequently available from commercial nurseries.

Taxonomic notes

Although many botanists have tended to regard Fuscospora cliffortioides as a variety of black beech (F. solandri), or even disregard it altogether, recent DNA data combined with phylogenetic mapping of character states confirm the view of Molloy et al. (1999) that F. cliffortioides it is a distinct species (see Heenan & Smissen 2013). Nevertheless field recognition is often hampered by the fact that both F. cliffortioides and F. solandri hybridise, and in some places the hybrids may form complex introgressive hybrid swarms. In this situations it is understandable that field botanists in particular have interpreted 'hybrid swarms' as evidence of a cline between both 'species' resulting in the interpretation of either the one species (F. solandri) or two varieties.

Keystone significance

Main host for yellow mistletoe (Alepis flavida) and red mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetala).

References and further reading

Heenan, P.B.; Smissen, R.D. 2013: Revised circumscription of Nothofagus and recognition of the segregate genera Fucospora, Lophozonia, and Trisyngyne (Nothofagaceae). Phytotaxa 146: 1-31. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.146.1.1

Molloy, B.P.J.; de Lange, P.J.; Clarkson, B.D. 1999: Coprosma pedicellata (Rubiaceae), a new species from New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37: 383-397.

Skipworth, J.P. 1981. Mountain beech mortality in the West Ruapehu forests. Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin 41: 26-34

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014