Podocarpus cunninghamii (Mountain totara)
Species: P. cunninghamii
Binomial name: Podocarpus cunninghamii
Synonyms: Podocarpus hallii, Nageia hallii, Podocarpus totara var. hallii,
Common name: Hall's totara, Montane totara, Thin-bark totara, Mountain totara.
Podocarpus cunninghamii is tall, slow growing species of conifer growing to a maximum height of 20 metres and can have a trunk up to 1.25m diameter. It is found only in New Zealand growing in lowland and montane forests as it is common in the 'goblin forest' on Mt Taranaki/Egmont (760 - 1100 metres above sea level). Where beech is absent, such as on Mt Taranaki the timberline can be gradual. Trees such as thin-bark totara (Podocarpus hallii) diminish in stature until they intermingle with subalpine scrub.
It is closely related to Podocarpus totara but distinguished from it by having thin, flaky, paper like bark and longer juvenile leaves which are 2.5-5 cm long and 4-5 mm wide. The adult leaves are 2-3 cm long and 3-4mm wide.
P. cunninghamii pollen and seed cones are similar to Podocarpus totara and appear at the same time. Cones occur solitary or in groups of 2-5. The seed cone is a round fleshy red coloured receptacle which has on top a pale green epimatium (a specialized type of ovuliferous scale that bears and completely encloses a single inverted ovule). The seeds 3-5mm long.
The bark "was formerly used by southern Maori to encase the kelp bags used for storing mutton birds. These containers are known as pohatiti" (Metcalf 2002).
For more information visit : http://www.conifers.org/po/Podocarpus_cunninghamii.php
Photographed Mt Egmont/Taranaki
A juvenile tree photographed at Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton's Bush Reserve. Wellington.
Podocarpus cunninghamii (Mountain totara) can be distinguished from Podocarpus totara (lowland totara) by the shape and size of its resting bud. See photos below.
A bud of Podocarpus cunninghamii (Mountain totara)
A bud of Podocarpus totara (Lowland totara)