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The largest of our native beech trees, tawhairaunui is known as red beech for its distinctive wood colour.

Fuscospora fusca
Can grow as high as
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More about this tree

  • A medium sized tree, found in the North and South Island, often in forests that grow only varieties of beech.
  • Tawhairaunui grows best in foothills and inland valleys with moist, well drained soil.  Wherever it grows well, it tends to dominate the forest, and can live for more than 300 years.
  • The tree has small leaves (2-4 cm) and separate male and female flowers which are also tiny and quite inconspicuous.
  • Beech trees only seed every 3-5 years when the conditions are right — but when they do, they can produce massive quantities of seeds.
  • Widespread seeding is called ‘masting’ and during years of a heavy seed fall, about 50 million seeds will fall per hectare in a beech forest. This creates a lot of extra food for mice and rats, so in these years, extra predator control is needed to protect our native birds. 
  • The beech scale insect lives in the bark of the tree and draws off the sap, excreting sugary liquid drops known as honeydew, which in turn feeds a range of birds (including tūī, tītoki and kākā) and insects (lizards, honeybees and wasps) as well as rats and possums.