Podocarpus totara var. waihoensis


Podocarpus: foot or stalk fruit
totara: after the Maori name, totara

Common Name(s)

Totara, Westland Totara

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


Podocarpus totara var. waihoensis Wardle



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




Endemic. Confined to the West Coast of the South Island, from about the Waiho River south to the Cascades.


Common in riparian and alluvial forest on poorly drained, flood-prone river terraces. Seemingly preferring recent soils overlying gravels.


Dioecious, suckering conifer up to 10-15 m tall. Usually multi-trunked from base with 2-3(-numerous) erect, stilt-like trunks. These stout, (0.2-)1-1.5 m diam., clad in firm, furrowed and somewhat stringy reddish-grey bark, branches stout, erect to somewhat spreading. Leaf bud narrower than or the same diam., as branchlet, surrounded by caducous, papery, narrowly lanceolate bracts. Leaves dark brownish-green to almost purple-brown, erect, leathery; 15-25 x 7-0.75-40 mm., linear, linear-lanceolate, acute to acuminate, apex pungent, mid-vein indistinct, stomatal lines obvious. Male cones (strobili) axillary 10-20 mm, solitary or in 4s. Female branchlets axillary, ovules solitary or paired, receptacle of 2-4 obtuse scales, somewhat subacute and free at tips, these maturing as a red, swollen, succulent, sweet tasting "fruit" surmounted by a 1(-2) broadly elliptic, ovoid-oblong 3-6 mm, semi-glossy, buff, grey nut brown, henna or dark brown (green to glaucous-green) when fresh, seed.

Similar Taxa

Believed to have arisen through introgressive hybridism (see Wardle 1972). Very close to Podocarpus acutifolius - one of its postulated parents, and deriving from that species the suckering root stock, multi-trunked (from base) growth-form, and narrower needle-like leaves. However, it differs from that species by its distinctive tree habit. From totara it differs by the suckering and multi-trunked habit, narrow-linear leaves, much slender branches.


(August-) October (-December)

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Fruits take a year or so to ripen, and may be found throughout the year, usually peaking at about the same time that cones are produced. They are most frequently seen between April and May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and hard-wood cuttings.


Not Threatened. However this variety is only known from the southern half of the West Coast.

Chromosome No.

2n = 34

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Uncommon in cultivation. Not often seen in gardens and probably not commercially available.

Taxonomic Notes

Podocarpus totara var. waihoensis rarely (if ever) makes a large forest tree. Some botanists consider that var. waihoensis should be elevated to species rank. However, hybrid swarms between P. acutifolius and P. totara in northern Westland are rather hard to distinguish from var. waihoensis. There is a need to find further critical defining characters before such a step could be seriously contemplated.

Fact Sheet Citation


Please cite as:  de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of Access): Podocarpus totara var. waihoensis Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=1176  (Date website was queried)



Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 January 2007. Description adapted from Wardle (1972) and Webb & Simpson (2001).

References and further reading

Wardle, P. 1972: Podocarpus totara var. waihoensis var. nov. : the result of introgressive hybridisation between P. totara and P. acutifolius. New Zealand Journal of Botany 10: 195-201.

Webb, C.J.; Simpson, M.J.A. 2001: Seeds of New Zealand Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Christchurch, Manuka Press.

Moorfield, J. C. (2005). Te aka : Maori-English, English-Maori dictionary and index.  Pearson Longman:  Auckland, N.Z.

This page last updated on 17 Sep 2018