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Dacrycarpus: tear shaped fruit
dacrydioides: like a dacrydium
kahikatea, white pine
Current Threat Status
2012 - Not Threatened
Previous Threat Status
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened
Dacrycarpus dacrydioides (A.Rich.) de Laub.
Vascular - Native
Dacrydium excelsum D.Don in Lamb., Dacrydium ferrugineum Houttee ex Gord., Dacrydium thuioides Banks et Solander ex Carr., Nageia excelsa Kuntze, Podocarpus dacrydioides Richard, Podocarpus thujoides R.Br. In Bennett, Podocarpus excelsus (D.Don) Druce; Podocarpus excelsus (D. Don.) Druce
Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands
Lowland forest, formerly dominant on frequently flooded, and/or poorly drained alluvial soils. Occasionally extends into lower montane forest. Once the dominant tree of a distinct swamp forest type all but extinct in the North Island - the best examples remain on the West Coast of the South Island.
Stout, dioecious, cohort-forming conifer, 50 (-65) m. tall. Trunk 1(-2) m diam., often fluted and buttressed. Bark grey to dark-grey, falling in thick, sinuous flakes. Wood white, odourless. Trunks bare for 3/4 of length, subadults with a distinctive columnar growth habit, branches arising from 1/3 to 1/2 of trunk length. Branchlets slender, drooping. Leaves of juveniles subdistichous, subpatent, narrow-linear, subfalcate, acuminate, decurrent, 3-7 x 0.5-1mm red, wine-red, dark-green to green.; of subadults less than or equal to 4 mm., dark green or red; those of adults 1-2 mm., imbricating, appressed, keel, subtrigonous, lanceolate-subulate to acuminate with broader base, brown-green or glaucous. Male cones terminal, oblong, 10 mm. Pollen pale yellow. Ovule, terminal, solitary glaucescent. Receptacle fleshy, oblong, compressed, warty, 2.5-6.5 mm., yellow to orange-red. Seed broadly obovate to circular (4-)4.5-6 mm diam., purple-black, thickly covered in glaucous bloom.
A distinctive tree of usually swampy alluvial terraces. The columnar growth form of subadults, buttressed and fluted trunk bases, scale-like leaves, and terminal fruits bearing the distinctive circular seeds serve to immediately distinguish this species from all other indigenous conifers.
October - January
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
February - April
Easily grown from fresh seed. Can be grown from hard-wood cuttings but rather slow to strike.
Not Threatened, although as a forest-type it has been greatly reduced through widespread logging. Very few intact examples of kahikatea-dominated forest remain in the North Island.
2n = 20
Where To Buy
Commonly cultivated and frequently sold by most commercial nurseries and outlets. A very popular garden tree. A form with distinctly glaucous foliage is occasionally on offer.
Kahikatea is New Zealands tallest indigenous tree. The white odourless timber was used extensively to make butter boxes, for much of the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was this practice which all but eliminated kahikatea-dominated swamp forest from the North Island and northern South Island.
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Wellington, Government Printer.
Gardner, R. 2001. Notes towards an excursion Flora. Rimu and kahikatea (Podocarpaceae). Auckland Botanical Society Journal, 56: 74-75
Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309
This page last updated on 4 Dec 2014