The majestic giant conifer of the southern hemisphere, Fitzroya cupressoides, which is known locally as 'alerce', inspires as much awe as its North American relative, the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) (5), and was declared a National Monument in Chile in 1976 (3). The reddish-brown trunk of the alerce towers up to 60 metres tall, and the smooth bark often falls away in strips (2). The branches are relatively short and grow horizontally or downwards, giving the alerce an overall conical appearance, with large trees sometimes secured by buttress roots (2). The minute leaves are found in alternating whorls of 3 at the end of the branchlets (3), and male and females cones may be found either on the same, or on different, trees (5). Female cones are small and composed of 9 scales in alternative rings, the upper layer of which contains two-winged seeds (3); the tip of the woody cone ends in a resin-secreting structure that gives off a fragrant odour (5).
- Height: up to 60 m (2)
- Diameter of trunk: up to 5 m (4)