Nothofagus antarctica ‘Antarctic Fire’
Common name: ñire, Antarctic beech
Nothofagus antarctica ‘Antarctic Fire’ is a deciduous tree native to southern South America. This cultivar of Antarctic beech is beautiful in all seasons. But in fall, you can see its fiery leaves contrasting with its dark charcoal trunk and branches.
The species tree turns yellow in fall and doesn’t seem to have passed on its often gaunt form to ‘Antarctic Fire’. Also, the species has a lighter colored trunk and branches. The traditional name for this tree is 'ñire', which means 'fox' in the Mapuche language. Foxes tend to burrow under these trees. Foxes are pretty fussy. It's not clear they would do that with a cultivar.
Surprisingly, there is no information on this cultivar online. According to curatorial staff, our specimen was bought at Piroche Nursery. The nursery said the seeds that were collected for them are from N. antarctica outside of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. When they were germinated back in BC, one had the red leaves.’
You can see this fine tree in bed 59 in the Chilean Garden.
Text and photos (November, 2021) by Hughie Jones