Phyllocladus alpinus


Phyllocladus: Leaf branch, referring to the leaf-like stems
alpinus: alpine

Common Name(s)

Mountain celery pine, mountain toatoa

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Phyllocladus alpinus Hook.f.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Gymnosperm Trees & Shrubs


Phyllocladus trichomanoides var. alpina (Hook.f.) Parl in DC.


Endemic. New Zealand: North and South Islands. In the North Island present from the Kaingaroa Plain, Whirinaki and Pureora (and frost flats nearby) south through the Central Volcanic Plateau, and main axial ranges. In the South Island - throughout.


Mostly subalpine to low alpine but also present at times at lower altitudes (200 m a.s.l. or less) on impoverished soils, especially in frost flats and other similar natural temperature inversion sites.


Monoecious shrub or tree up to 6 m, trunk short, up to 400 mm diameter. Phylloclades alternate to subopposite, rhachis short. Leaves of seedlings and juveniles up to 15 mm, narrow-linear, acute, deciduous, of older plants shorter. Phylloclades of juvenile plants up to 20 mm long, deeply divided, thin, with narrow-linear segments; those of adults thick, coriaceous, 10-25 mm, dark green to glaucous green above, glaucous below; Phylloclade shape various; narrow-rhomboid or spathulate, sparingly or much lobed, often elliptic to obovate, cuneate at base, apex subacute to broad-obtuse, margins crenate, leaf-denticles small. Male strobili 5-6 mm long in fascicles of 2-5, rarely solitary, apical, with pedicels 1-2 mm long; sporophylls with small variously shaped apiculi, sometimes erose. Carpidia densely clustered towards bases of phylloclades, or marginal, rarely solitary; receptacle of red, fleshy scales; mature heads c. 6-7 mm. diameter. Seeds nutlike, black. exserted, ovoid, compressed, c.2.5 mm long, obtuse; cupule white, irregularly lobed, up to 2/3 the length of seed.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from the other named celery pines (tanekaha (P. trichomanoides) and toatoa (P. toatoa)) by the shrub to small tree-forming growth habit, and glaucous simple phylloclades. It differs from P. aff. alpinus (see Taxonomic Notes below) by the dark green glaucous rather than yellow phylloclades and shrub to small tree-forming growth habit. In some parts of its range it is sympatric with P. aff. alpinus (such as the Richmond Range, near Nelson)


October - December

Flower Colours

No Flowers


January - June

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and - with some difficulty - by hard wood cuttings. As a rule rather slow growing and suited for cultivation in warm climates. Often very slow growing though once established it forms a beautiful small tree. Some selection of wild forms is needed as leaf colours from dark green to plants that richly coloured blue-grey (this is retained in cultivation).


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 18

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Taxonomic Notes

Allan (1961) adopted a very broad concept for Phyllocladus alpinus including within it a very distinct form with yellow phylloclades of lowland to montane forests and which (under certain conditions such as in the lowland forests of the west coast of the South Island) can form a large tree up to 15 m tall. This form is probably better treated as a distinct species and as such has been the subject of considerable study by Dr Brian Molloy who intends to describe it. It is this form which is the one found on Mt Moehau (where it has variously been called a hybrid or another new species (P. "Moehau" of some treatments) allied to P. aff. alpinus, but which it is now agreed is the same unnamed species) and which is also in cloud forest on the high points of the Coromandel Peninsula (Maumaupaki, Table Mountain), Kaimai (Te Aroha, Ngatamahinerua), Rakumara and Te Urewera Ranges, as well as in isolated pockets in the Tararua Ranges. This form is also occasionally sympatric with P. alpinus in the Richmond Range. It is most common from Kahurangi National Park (Wakamarama Range) south to south Westland.  The description and notes provided in this Fact Sheet does not include this entity.

Fact Sheet Citation

Please cite as:  de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of Access): Phyllocladus alpinus Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=1115  (Date website was queried)




Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2004. Description adapted from Allan (1961).

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington.

This page last updated on 17 Sep 2018