Myrtle Beech


Nothofagus cunninghamii

This evergreen native tree is found in the cool temperate forests of Victoria and Tasmania. A relic of a time when Australia’s climate was much cooler and wetter, this specimen is superficially similar to the New Zealand Silver Beech and emblematic of Antarctic Flora. With new growth in brilliant reds, oranges and pinks contrasting with mature glossy emerald, green leaves, this highly ornamental and prized medium sized tree is perfect for cooler gardens with highly organic soil.


3 kg


45 × 14 × 10 cm

Plant Origin

Australia , Tasmania


Cold , Cool Temperate


Aussie Native , Best Sellers , New Arrivals , Plants

Foliage Colour

Bronze , Dark Green , Gold , Green , Orange , Pink

Growth Type

Medium Tree , Small Tree

Container size



Full Sun , Partial Sun , Shade

Soil Type

Loam , Organic , Well Drained


Drought Tender , Frost Tolerance (Below 0C to -9C) , Shade Tolerant , Sun Tolerant

Water Requirements

Drought Sensitive , High Water Requirement , Medium Water Requirement

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Antarctic Flora , Aussie Natives , Gondwana Flora , Rare Plants , Southern Beeches , Tassie Natives

Flower Colour

Green / Brown

Garden Style

Bonsai , Formal , Informal , Japanese , Large Garden , Mixed Native – Ornamental , Modern , Native , Ornamental , Traditional , Woodland

pH Range

5.5 , 6 , 6.5 , 7 , 7.5

Plant Use

Bird / Wildlife attracting , Bonsai , Large Garden , Ornamental , Shade , Topiary

Myrtle Beech

Nothofagus cunninghamii

The Myrtle Beech is an evergreen tree native to Tasmania and Victoria, growing mainly in temperate rainforest settings and alpine areas. Myrtle Beech is one of three Southern Beech species or Nothofagus found in Australia with the other 40 species found predominantly in the Antarctic Flora biomes of New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, New Caledonia, and mountainous zones of Papua New Guinea. It is not related to the Myrtle family Myrtaceae, which includes Eucalypts, Paperbarks, Tea Trees, Lilly Pillies, Turpentine Trees and Flaming Trees (Metrosideros) to name a few.

The Myrtle Beech is extremely rare in cultivation outside of southern Tasmania and southeast Victoria. It will reach heights of 8 to 10 metres high with a spread of 6 to 8 metres in cultivation under optimal conditions. It can withstand light pruning and can be trained into an attractive bonsai.

In the wild, specimens can grow as large as 45 to 50 metres high with a spread of 12 metres. Such examples are visible in Tasmania and Victoria’s national parks and are readily accessible on nature walks.

The Myrtle Beech requires a humid, semi-shaded position with deep organic, free-draining soil and will establish within 3 to 5 years. It is long-lived, with specimens over 300 years recorded in the wild.

The Myrtle Beech can be found in pure stands, within mixed-conifer rainforest settings and as a midstory tree in established wet sclerophyll forests, along with atherosperma moschatum and Elaeocarpus holopetalus and the gigantic, Mountain Ash Eucalyptus regnans. The Myrtle Beech will flourish in Australian climate zones 8 to 6 in areas of high rainfall that receive over 900m per year, with 1200m per year ideal. It requires adequate moisture year-round, with mulching required before warmer weather sets in to retain soil moisture.

The leaves have a distinctive triangular shape, with toothed margins, it is grown for its growth habit of attractive fans of lacy foliage. Juvenile leaves are pinkish bronze that darkens to green at maturity.  The bark is grey, horizontally banded, and scaly and divided by deep vertical fissures. Superficially, it has a strong resemblance to the Silver Beech of New Zealand, known as Nothofagus menziesii syn. Lophozonia menziesii.

There is evidence that the Myrtle Beech once occupied greater territory than it does now, with the most recent setbacks occurring during the recent glacial maximums which saw reduced rainfall across the continent. Evidence suggests that Nothofagus species, including extinct taxa grew in forests that covered much eastern, southern and southwestern Australia as little as 1.8 million years ago, with possible small relic populations existing in New South Wales as little as 5000 years ago. Continued changes in rainfall pattern and fire frequency further reduced the ecological foothold to its present range, despite areas across the eastern seaboard that are suitable for this plant species to flourish.

Sadly, with climate change, this species is now classified as vulnerable, as it is susceptible to strong fire. Myrtle wilt is also of concern, a parasitic fungus that attacks Myrtle Beech that has exposed, open wounds. This is a naturally occurring fungus, but in recent years has become of increased concern due to poor logging practices. Conservation efforts are underway to ensure the genetic diversity and viability of this species are maintained for future generations to enjoy.

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding any item you see in our catalogue as we want to help you buy the right item for your needs.

To find out more about the Myrtle Beech, see the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria for more information.


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