Lophozonia menziesi (Silver beech)
Species: L. menziesii
Binomial name: Lophozonia menziesii (was known as Nothofagus menziesii prior to 2013).
Synonyms: Nothofagus menziesii, Fagus menziesii
Common names: Silver beech, Round-leaved beech, Tāwai, Tawhai
Lophozonia menziesii is a tree of the southern beech family endemic to New Zealand. Its common name probably comes from the fact that its bark is silvery on young trees. It is found in lowland to montane forests and in shrub in the sub-alpine zone from Thames southwards in the North Island (except Mount Taranaki/Egmont), and throughout the South Island.
Silver beech is a forest tree up to 30 m tall. The trunk, which is often buttressed, may be up to 2 m in diameter. The leaves are small, thick and almost round in shape; 6 to 15 mm long and 5 to 15 mm wide with rounded teeth. They usually occur in pairs, 1 or 2 hair fringed domatia are found on the underside of each leaf.
The tiny trees flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same tree) and they are pollinated by wind. Lophozonia menziesii is the host plant for the parasitic mistletoe, Peraxilla colensoi and is also host to the parasitic beech strawberry fungus (Cyttaria gunni).
The tree’s timber is red, tough, strong, elastic and with a straight grain. It is not durable outdoors. It was used for house blocks, wine cases, etc. and for making furniture. The bark which contains a black dye and tannin was used by settlers for tanning leather.
The early Maori also used the bark in dyeing fibre used in weaving. Puku tawai a fungoid growth on the trunk was used as punk (a smoldering in fire-generating and as a fire-stick. (Best 1908). They also used a chip of the wood as a lure for barracuata.
The round serated leaves of Lophozonia menziesii
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