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


Podocarpus acutifolius (Needle-leaved totara)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Podocarpaceae
Genus: Podocarpus
Species: P. acutifolius
Binomial name: Podocarpus acutifolius
Common name: Needle-leaved totara, Westland totara.

Seed is poisonous if ingested Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Podocarpus acutifolius is a shrub or small tree growing up to 9 m tall and up to 50 cm in diameter.
Its bark thin, peeling off in short strips or flakes.
The leaves are straight, narrow, needle-pointed, 1.5-2.5 cm × 0.75-3.5 mm with an indistinct midvein. The leaves are green in shaded settings but a distinctive yellow-green in open areas.
It develops pollen cones 1-2 cm long, auxiliary, solitary or up to 4 together on common peduncle 2-3 mm long; peduncle furnished above with 2 narrow-triangular keeled scales and below with 4 ovate scales; apiculus obtuse.
The ovules are solitary or rarely paired on a peduncle 1 mm long; receptacle of 2 obtuse scales usually red, swollen and succulent. The seeds are narrowly ovoid.
It is only found in the wild in the South Island from Marlborough Sounds to Nelson and then down the western side of the island to south Westland (43° 50' S), in lowland and montane forest and scrub.

Podocarpus acutifolius hybridises with P. totara var. totara. One hybrid is P. totara ‘Aurea’ (Golden Totara); another is P. totara var. waihoensis.

Several shrubs of  Podocarpus acutifolius photographed at Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton's Bush Reserve. Wellington.