Keteleeria Genus

3 Species with 2 Trinomials

Keteleeria, first described in 1866 by Élie-Abel Carrière (1818-1896), is a genus of three species of coniferous trees in the family Pinaceae, related to the genera Nothotsuga and Pseudolarix. It is distinguished from Nothotsuga by the much larger cones, and from Pseudolarix by the evergreen leaves and the cones not disintegrating readily at maturity. All three genera share the unusual feature of male cones produced in umbels of several together from a single bud, and also in their ability, very rare in the Pinaceae, of being able to coppice.

The genus name honors J.B. Keteleer (1813-1903), a French nurseryman.

Description. They are evergreen trees reaching mature heights of 120 feet (35 m) tall. The leaves are flat, needle-like, 0.6 to 3 inches (1.5 - 7 cm) long and 0.08 to 0.16 inch (2 - 4 mm) wide. The seed cones are erect, 2.4 to 8.8 inches (6 - 22 cm) long, maturing about 6 to 8 months after pollination; cone size and scale shape is very variable within all three species.

The variability of the cones has led in the past to the description of several additional species (up to 16 'species' have been named), but most authorities now only accept three species.

Distribution. The genus is found in southern China — Shaanxi south to Guangdong and Yunnan provinces, Taiwan, Hainan, northern Laos and Vietnam.


Lynne Faust

In Gavin Menzies 's book, "1421, The Year China Discovered the World", I first learned about Keteleria. The wood from this tree was used to build Chinese trading ships in the Middle Ages. Fragments of it had been identified in the wreck of a medieval Chinese junk buried under a 40' sandbank in the Sacramento River (pp241-242).