Fitzroya Forest

These forests, dominated by the near endemic conifer Fitzroya cupressoides (Cupressaceae) are confined to southern Chile and adjacent parts of Argentina. Fitzroya cupressoides can reach heights of up to 50 m, and is one of the longest-lived trees in the World with a life span of up to 3600 years. Remaining forests occur throughout the Coastal Cordillera, the Andean Cordillera and the Central Depression, although only remnant stands occur in the latter. Fortunately the Chilean Government has now declared every living Fitzroya tree a “National Monument”. In the near natural forests of the Central Depression Fitzroya is overwhelmingly dominant, but the endemic or near endemic Caldcluvia paniculata (Cunoniaceae) and Crinodendron hookerianum (Elaeocarpaceae) are abundant sub-canopy trees. Others may include Amomyrtus luma, Eucryphia cordifolia, Gevuina avellana, Lomatia ferruginea, Nothofagus dombeyi, Podocarpus nubigena and the endemic or near endemic Drimys winteri (Winteraceae), Nothofagus nitida (Nothofagaceae), Tepualia stipularis (Myrtaceae) and Weinmannia trichosperma (Cunoniaceae). Under storey shrubs typically include Gaultheria phillyreifolia, Pernettya insana and the endemic or near endemic Philesia magellanica (Philesiaceae). Other shrubs may include Desfontainia spinosa, Myrteola nummularia, Myrceugenia parviflora, Ugni molinae and the endemic Pseudopanax laetevirens (Araliaceae). Lianas are also an interesting feature with species such as Griselina racemosa, Luzuriaga radicans and the endemic Campsidium valdivianum (Bignoniaceae), Luzuriaga polyphylla (Philesiaceae) and Mitraria coccinea (Gesneraceae). The ground layer comprises many ferns especially species of Blechnum (such as Blechnum chilense) and Hymenophyllum species, and a variety of herbaceous flowering plants. The latter include Chusquea macrostachya, Cotula scariosa, Carex fuscula, Eliocharis pachycarpa, Juncus lesveuri, Nertera granadensis, Plantago truncata, Shoenus rhynchosporoides and Uncinia erinacea. Other endemic species recorded in mountain forests include shrubs such as Myoschilos oblonga (Santalaceae), Ovida pillo-pillo (family?) and Ugni candollei (Myrtaceae), and herbaceous species such as Fascicularia bicolor (Bromeliaceae).


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Donoso, C., Sandoval, V., Grez, R. & Rodriguez, J. 1993. Dynamics of Fitzroya cupressoides forests in southern Chile. Journal of Vegetation Science, 4: 303-312.

Fraver, S., González, M. E., Silla, F. & Lara, A. 1999. Composition and structure of remnant Fitzroya cupressoides forest of southern Chile’s central depression. Journal of Torrey Botanical Society, 126: 49-57.

Herrmann, T. M. 2006. Indigenous knowledge and management of Araucaria araucana forest in the Chilean Andes: implications for native forest conservation. Biodiversity and Conservation, 15: 647-662.

Smith-Ramirez, C. 2004. The Chilean coastal range: a vanishing centre of biodiversity and endemism in South American temperate rainforests. Biodiversity and Conservation, 13: 373-393.

Smith-Ramirez, C., Diaz, I., Pliscoff, P., Valdovinos, C., Méndez, M. A. Larrain, J. & Samaniego, H. 2007. Distribution patterns of flora and fauna in southern Chilean Coastal rain forests: Integrating Natural History and GIS. Biodiversity and Conservation, 16: 2627-2648.

Veblen, T. T., Delmastro, R. J. & Schlatter, J. E. 1976. The conservation of Fitzroya cupressoides and its environment in southern Chile. Environmental Conservation, 3: 291-301.