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Podocarpus Genus

109 Species with 13 Trinomials

Podocarpus from the Greek, podos, meaning “foot”, and karpos, meaning “fruit” is a genus of conifers, the most numerous and widely distributed of the podocarp family Podocarpaceae. The 105 species of Podocarpus are evergreen shrubs or trees from 1–25 m (rarely to 40 m) in height. The leaves are 0.5–15 cm long, lanceolate to oblong, falcate (sickle-shaped) in some species, with a distinct midrib, and are arranged spirally, though in some species twisted to appear in two horizontal ranks. The cones have two to five fused scales, of which only one, rarely two, are fertile, each fertile scale with one apical seed. At maturity, the scales become berry-like, swollen, brightly coloured red to purple and fleshy, and are eaten by birds which then disperse the seeds in their droppings. The male (pollen) cones are 5–20 mm long, often clustered several together. Many species, though not all, are dioecious.

Podocarpus_neriifolius_in_Koishikawa
Podocarpus neriifolius in Koishikawa Botanical Gardens, Tokyo, Japan

Photo by Daderot via WIsipedia

Podocarpus and the Podocarpaceae were endemic to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which broke up into Africa, South America, India, Australia-New Guinea, New Zealand, and New Caledonia between 105 and 45 million years ago. Podocarpus is a characteristic tree of the Antarctic flora, which originated in the cool, moist climate of southern Gondwana, and elements of the flora survive in the humid temperate regions of the former supercontinent. As the continents drifted north and became drier and hotter, Podocarps and other members of the Antarctic flora generally retreated to humid regions, especially in Australia, where sclerophyll genera like Acacia and Eucalyptus became predominant, and the old Antarctic flora retreated to pockets that presently cover only 2% of the continent. As Australia drifted north toward Asia, the collision pushed up the Indonesian archipelago and the mountains of New Guinea, which allowed podocarp species to hop across the narrow straits into humid Asia, with P. macrophyllus reaching north to southern China and Japan. The flora of Malesia, which includes the Malay peninsula, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Guinea, is generally derived from Asia but includes many elements of the old Gondwana flora, including several other genera in the Podocarpaceae (Dacrycarpus, Dacrydium, Falcatifolium, Nageia, Phyllocladus, and the Malesian endemic Sundacarpus), and also Agathis in the Araucariaceae.

There are two subgenera, subgenus Podocarpus and subgenus Foliolatus, distinguished by cone and seed morphology.

Subgenus Podocarpus. Cone not subtended by lanceolate bracts, seed usually with an apical ridge. Distributed in the temperate forests of Tasmania, New Zealand, southern Chile, with some species extending into the tropical highlands of Africa and the Americas.

Subgenus Foliolatus. Cone subtended by two lanceolate bracts (“foliola”), seed usually without an apical ridge. Generally tropical and subtropical distribution, concentrated in east and southeast Asia and Malesia, overlapping with subgenus Podocarpus in northeastern Australia and New Caledonia.

Photographed along the roadside,Tanabe City, Wakayama Pref., Japan
Photographed along the roadside,Tanabe City, Wakayama Pref., Japan

Photo by Keisotyo via Wikipedia

Species in family Podocarpaceae have been reshuffled a number of times based on genetic and physiological evidence, with many species formerly assigned to genus Podocarpus now assigned to other genera. A sequence of classification schemes have moved species between Nageia and Podocarpus, and in 1969 de Laubenfels divided the huge genus Podocarpus into Dacrycarpus, Decussocarpus (an invalid name he later revised to the valid Nageia), Prumnopitys, and Podocarpus.

Several species of Podocarpus are grown as garden trees, or trained into hedges, espaliers, or screens. Common garden species used for their attractive deep green foliage and neat habits include P. macrophyllus, known by its Japanese name Kusamaki, or occasionally as “buddhist pine” or “fern pine”, P. salignus from Chile, and for a small shrub with attractive red “berries”, P. nivalis. Some members of the genera Nageia, Prumnopitys and Afrocarpus are also still sold mislabeled as Podocarpus. The red, purple or bluish fleshy fruit of most species of Podocarpus are edible, raw or cooked into jams or pies, and they have a mucilaginous texture with a slightly sweet flavor. However, the fruit are slightly toxic and should therefore be eaten sparingly, especially when eaten raw. The timber of P. falcatus is used for floorboards, beams and furniture.

Some species of Podocarpus are used traditionally in their native areas for the treatment of fevers, asthma, coughs, cholera, chest complaints, arthritis, rheumatism, venereal diseases and distemper in dogs.

Podocarpus acuminatus

 

Podocarpus acutifolius

 

Podocarpus affinis

 

Podocarpus alpinus

 

Plum-fruited Yew

(Podocarpus andinus)

Podocarpus angustifolius

 

Podocarpus annamiensis

 

Podocarpus aracensis

 

Podocarpus archboldii

 

Podocarpus aristulatus

 

Podocarpus atjehensis

 

Podocarpus barretoi

 

Podocarpus borneensis

 

Podocarpus bracteatus

 

Podocarpus brasiliensis

 

Podocarpus brassii

 

Podocarpus brevifolius

 

Podocarpus buchholzii

 

Podocarpus capuronii

 

Podocarpus celatus

 

Podocarpus chinensis

 

Podocarpus chingianus

 

Podocarpus confertus

 

Podocarpus coriaceus

 

Podocarpus costalis

 

Podocarpus costaricensis

 

Podocarpus crassigemmis

 

Podocarpus cunninghamii

 

Podocarpus decumbens

 

Podocarpus deflexus

 

Podocarpus degeneri

 

Podocarpus dispermus

 

Podocarpus drouynianus

 

Podocarpus elatus

 

Podocarpus elongatus

 

Podocarpus epiphyticus

 

Oteniqua Yellow Wood

(Podocarpus falcatus)

Podocarpus fasciculus

 

Podocarpus gibbsiae

 

Podocarpus glaucus

 

Podocarpus globulus

 

Podocarpus glomeratus

 

Podocarpus gnidioides

 

Podocarpus grayae

 

Podocarpus guatemalensis

 

Podocarpus henkelii

 

Podocarpus hispaniolensis

 

Podocarpus humbertii

 

Podocarpus indonesiensis

 

Podocarpus ingensis

 

Podocarpus insularis

 

Podocarpus lambertii

 

Podocarpus latifolius

 

Podocarpus laubenfelsii

 

Mountain Plum Pine

(Podocarpus lawrencei)

Podocarpus ledermannii

 

Podocarpus levis

 

Podocarpus longifoliolatus

 

Podocarpus lophatus

 

Podocarpus lucienii

 

Podocarpus macrocarpus

 

Yew Podocarpus

(Podocarpus macrophyllus)

Podocarpus madagascariensis

 

Podocarpus magnifolius

 

Podocarpus matudae

 

Podocarpus micropedunculatus

 

Podocarpus milanjianus

 

Podocarpus monteverdeensis

 

Nakai yellowwood

(Podocarpus nakaii)

Podocarpus neriifolius

 

Alpine Totara

(Podocarpus nivalis)

Podocarpus novae-caledoniae

 

Podocarpus nubigenus

 

Podocarpus oleifolius

 

Podocarpus palawanensis

 

Podocarpus pallidus

 

Podocarpus parlatorei

 

Podocarpus pendulifolius

 

Podocarpus perrieri

 

Podocarpus pilgeri

 

Podocarpus polyspermus

 

Podocarpus polystachyus

 

Podocarpus pseudobracteatus

 

Podocarpus purdieanus

 

Podocarpus ridleyi

 

Podocarpus roraimae

 

Podocarpus rostratus

 

Podocarpus rotundus

 

Podocarpus rubens

 

Podocarpus rumphii

 

Podocarpus rusbyi

 

Podocarpus salicifolius

 

Podocarpus salignus

 

Podocarpus salomoniensis

 

Podocarpus sellowii

 

Podocarpus smithii

 

Podocarpus spathoides

 

Podocarpus spinulosus

 

Podocarpus sprucei

 

Podocarpus steyermarkii

 

Podocarpus subtropicalis

 

Podocarpus sylvestris

 

Podocarpus tepuiensis

 

Podocarpus teysmannii

 

Totara

(Podocarpus totara)

Podocarpus transiens

 

Podocarpus trinitensis

 

Podocarpus urbanii

 

Podocarpus woltzii

 

Podocarpus_macrophyllus_inumaki