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Nothofagus Antarctica or the Antarctic Beech tree, is an unusual and hardy tree which will add interest to your landscape. Native to southern Chile and Argentina, Nothofagus Antarctica provides year-round interest. In spring, it leafs out in small, irregularly-edged heart-shaped leaves which are a glossy, bright green, and have a pleasant scent. The flowers are small but fragrant and are followed by small nuts. By the end of the summer the leaves have changed to a bright yellow. After the leaves fall, the twisted bare branches and trunk reveal their attractive, scaly dark-brown bark with silver-white highlights.
It is not surprising that a tree with the name Antarctic should be winter-hardy and indeed Nothofagus Antarctica is suitable for planting throughout the UK and northern Europe. This large tree will grow to 8 meters tall and 4 metres wide in 20 years, before reaching an ultimate height of more than 12 metres and spread of 8 metres over a period of 50 years. It will need little pruning to maintain its twisted, irregular shape.
Plant your Nothofagus Antarctica in full sun in an exposed or sheltered position, but it prefers a lime-free acidic soil, whether clay, sand, or loam. It needs a moist but well-drained soil for its deep taproot, and when young will not tolerate extended dry periods. However, waterlogged soil can result in a fungal infestation, so good drainage is essential. It is not troubled by insects.
The Antarctic beech needs a large space in which to grow to its full size, so it is best in a large garden or extensive property. It makes a striking specimen tree for the middle of a lawn, or if there is room, in a small grouping.
An alternative use of Nothofagus Antarctica is as a decorative topiary shrub, achieved through annual pruning in late spring or early summer. A shape similar to bonsai will result, and will add considerable interest to a small garden.
This unique and striking tree from the southern tip of South America has much to recommend it to a gardener in the UK through all the seasons of the year. Whether allowed to grow large, or pruned to be kept small, Nothofagus Antarctica’s attractive form and pleasant foliage will make an excellent addition to your garden.