T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Libocedrus plumose (Kawaka)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Libocedrus
Species: L. plumosa
Binomial name: Libocedrus plumose
Common names: Kawaka, Kaikawaka

Libocedrus plumosa is a species of conifer endemic to New Zealand, occurring on the North Island in lowland and hill forest near Te Paki and to south of Kawhia in the west and Gisborne in the East. It also grows in the north of the South Island near Nelson (41° S). It is classed as at risk as it needs disturbed areas to regenerate. 
It grows from sea level up to 600 m.a.s.l in temperate rainforests. This evergreen coniferous tree grows to 25 m tall, with a trunk up to 1.2m in diameter. 
The bark tears off in long thin strips which often spiral gradually around the trunk, giving the tree a twisted appearance. The foliage is arranged in flattened sprays; Libocedrus plumose has closely overlapping scale leaves arranged in four rows of opposite pairs at right angles to those above and below.
Libocedrus plumose and Libocedrus bidwilli are unique among New Zealand conifers in having small seed cones made up of a few thin woody scales. The male and female cones occur at the tips of twigs on the same tree. Male cones are 3–5 millimetres long and contain about 10–14 scales. They are produced in spring to early summer.
The female cones are reduced to four large green scales, two sterile and two fertile. When ripe the tiny, dry woody cones split open to release two winged seeds, which are dispersed by wind. 

In the past it was selectively milled to near extinction for its red wood which was used for house shingles and in cabinet making.

For more details visit: http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=281



Foliage showing flat sprays
 

The underside of the leaf fans.
 

The thin, scaly, peeling bark.