Podocarpus totara var. waihoensis
Podocarpus: foot or stalk fruit
totara: after the Maori name, totara
Totara, Westland Totara
Podocarpus totara var. waihoensis Wardle
Vascular - Native
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.
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)
Main Flower Colour
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
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.
2n = 34
Where To Buy
Uncommon in cultivation. Not often seen in gardens and probably not commercially available.
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. Clearly there is a need to find further critical defining characters before such a step could be seriously contemplated.
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.
Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by: P.J. de Lange 1 January 2007. Description adapted from Wardle (1972) and Webb & Simpson (2001).
This page last updated on 4 Jan 2012