Podocarpus ledermannii

Podocarpus ledermannii, first described in 1916 by Robert Knud Friedrich Pilger (1876–1953), is commonly known as Sua in the Kebar language of western New Guinea; as bébieai in Kapauko language (also w. New Guinea); in eastern New Guinea it is called babako in the Aijura, and Anona languages. In New Britain it is called neleel in the vicinity of Cape Gloucester and nelil on Mt. Talawe.

Description. P. ledermannii is an evergreen coniferous species of tree which will grow to heights of 12 to 100 feet (4 -33 m) tall, with a trunk 3.5 to 24 inch (8 - 60 cm) in diameter at breast height. Foliage buds are 0.16 to 0.32 inch (4 - 8 mm) long by 0.12 to 0.16 inch (3 - 4 mm) in diameter. Juvenile and adult shade leaves are linear, 4.5 to 9 inches (11- 22 cm) long by 0.8 to 1 inch (2 - 2.4 cm) wide, narrowing abruptly to an acuminate apex and at the base to a 0.16 to 0.4 inch (4 - 10 mm) petiole. Leaves more exposed to the sun no more than 0.6 to 0.7 inch (16 - 18 mm) wide, weakly acuminate if at all and narrowing less abruptly at the base; midrib above broad and rounded, 0.06 to 0.08 inch (1.5 - 2 mm) wide and ca. 0.24 (0.6 mm) high, sometimes collapsing on dried specimens to a small narrow ridge. Pollen cones are ca 1.8 inches (4.5 cm) long, grouped on a 0.12 to 0.16 inch (3 - 4 mm) peduncle. Seed-bearing structure grows on a 0.16 to 0.6 inch (4 - 15 mm) peduncle with a 0.36 to 0.6 inch (9-16 mm) long receptacle. Seeds with their covering are ca. 0.48 inch (11 - 13 mm) by 0.4 inch (9 - 10 mm), and slightly crested.

Distribution. This species is native to New Guinea and New Britain, where it is found scattered and locally common in the understory of the primary rainforests from low elevation to at least 5,800 feet (1,800 m) above sea level.

Attribution from: David J. de Laubenfels; ©1988, Coniferales. pp. 337-453 in Flora Malesiana, Series I, Vol. 10. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.

Podocarpus ledermannii at the Montgomery Botanical Center, Coral Gables, Florida.
Photo by Tom Cox