Dacrydium guillauminii / Cat-tail Rimu

Dacrydium guillauminii, as described in 1949 by John Theodore Buchholz (1888-1951), in Bulletin du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, sér. 2, is commonly known as Cat-tail Rimu, Swamp Dacrydium as well as Queues de Chat in the French language. The species name honors André Guillaumin (1885 - 1974), one of the pioneers in the study of the flora of New Caledonia. He collected some of the original herbarium samples for use in botanical study.

Description. Cat-tail Rimu is an evergreen coniferous species of tree in the Podocarpaceae family, growing as a small erect shrub, 3 to 6 feet (1 - 2 m) in height.

  • Bark has small dark scales, is fibrous and brown inside. At first, it is covered with many small lenticels, developing with age into many small crevices.
  • Branching is quite dense.
  • Foliage becomes very dense and less spread out with age but not at all reduced in size. Needles are sharp, spiny and slightly compressed, imbricate in shape, and dense, 0.6 inches (13 - 17 mm) long.
  • Pollen cones are borne at terminal and lateral ends, the lateral ones are much smaller at the base below the terminal ones, 0.3 to 0.5 inch (8-14 mm) long, tapering off from the base.
  • Seed cones also occur on the terminal branches, sometimes on very short lateral shoots, on bracts resembling non-modified leaves, but slightly reduced.
  • Seeds, up to 5 per cone, subterminal, are oval, much larger than thick, with lateral carina, rounded apex with projecting microsporophylls, 0.18 inch (4.5 mm) long, becoming almost erect, the bracts are exserted which surround the seeds.
Distribution. This species is native only to the island of New Caledonia, where it can only be found within a few kilometers along the river Madeleine (Riviére des Lacs) and along the riverbanks of Lac en Huit, into which the river flows.

Hardy to USDA Zone 10, cold hardiness limit between 30º and 40ºF (-1° and +4.4°C).

The IUCN reports that this taxon is critically endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. It has an extremely restricted range of less than 100 km2 that is severely fragmented or known to exist at only a single location, and that is suffering a continuing decline in extent and/or quality of habitat and in the number of mature individuals. The total population size numbers fewer than 250 mature individuals and is continuing to decline, with no sub-population estimated to contain more than 50 mature individuals.

Attribution from: David J. de Laubenfels, ©1972. No. 4, Gymnospermes, in A. Aubréville and Jean-F. Leroy, eds., Flore de la Nouvelle-Calédonie et Dépendances. Paris: Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle

Dacrydium guillauminii growing in nature.
Photo by Tim Waters
Dacrydium guillauminii growing in nature.
Photo by Daniel & Irène Létocart
Dacrydium guillauminii growing in nature along New Caledonia's Chutes de Madeleine.
Photo by Derek Spicer
Dacrydium guillauminii — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Derek Spicer