Native to the highlands of China, Japan and the Philippines, this slow growing evergreen conifer can grow to 50' but in cultivation is usually shorter. It has soft leathery yew-like needles but they get up to 4" long. It's best grown in rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of shade (often seen indoors in large tubs in malls) but intolerant of wet.
Podocarpus is very popular as a dense screen or hedge if planted closely but can also be used as an ornamental with lower branches removed to reveal the light brown, peeling bark. As it matures the tree grows in an open manner with large spaces between the branches creating a pleasing, irregular oval silhouette in middle and old age.
Because its root system is quite forgiving and its narrow form it has potential as a street tree in urban environments in the southeast.
Other common names include Japanese yew, yew pine, southern yew, yew podocarpus and podocarpus. Also, inaccurately referred to as Buddhist Pine and Fern Pine. It is NOT a pine but a distinct genus, the second largest after pine with 97 species (Farjon, 2010).
Podocarpus macrophyllus - Close-up of foliage
Close-up of ovule-bearing branches. SIUC greenhouse. Photo by Dan Nickrent.
Photo by Dan Nickrent
Courtesy of Sandra McLean Cutler, author of "Dwarf & Unusual Conifers Coming of Age
Photo by Sandra McLean Cutler
Podocarpus macrophyllus, in Gainsville, FL, 2008
Photo by Univ. of FL Extension
Podocarpus foliage with mature seed cones.
Photo by Koppchen via Wikipedia
Podocarpus macrophyllus at Krohn Conservatory.
Photo by Greg Hume via Wikipedia