Nothofagus antarctica

southern beech
Nothofagus antarctica-08 by Blake C Willson

 

Nothofagus antarctica

They call him the Antarctic Beech,
And they call him False Beech too,
He’s somewhat beechy, that bit’s true,
Although he’s rather false as well:
A cousin, not a brother, truth to tell.
But as for the Antarctic, hell –
That one’s a real reach !

Antarctic Beech is no such thing,
He cannot cross the Southern Seas –
He clings to Fuego, looking out,
The southernmost of all the trees.
He braces up to southerlies
That stunt and sculpt and knock about.

And so, each slow September-Spring
He wakes, and adds another ring.
But far five hundred miles beyond,
His boughs bow-out to fragile gloom,
Where only mosses raise a frond,
And only grass and pearlwort bloom.

Now far to the north, he’s also in sprout:
An immigrant hardwood who’s hardy and stout.
So the Antarctic Beech is the king of the Faroes –
Where’er the cold air blows,
That’s where he grows.
Though not in all lands that are under the Plough,
But only as far as the cold will allow:
The poles are forever beyond his long reach –
Forever the sub-arctic beech.

The Horn’s as far as he may go,
But fair’s fair, fossils have been found
Beneath the harsh Antarctic ground –
But as for living species: no.
But oh !  The Antarctic beech – what a star !
The tree to the south of the south of afar !
So yes, we all know that his claim is a lie –
But how could we let such a name pass us by ?

 

 

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