The genus of Podocarpus consists of about 100 species of evergreen, coniferous trees and shrubs. They have dark green, leathery, elongated leaves, or, as in the well-loved Totara, smaller, needle-like, olive green to yellow leaves. They make excellent specimen trees for gardens that have the space to show them off to best effect, or shrubby borders or hedging plants. Commercially they are highly valued for their timber which is used extensively in Maori carvings.
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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 and New Zealand.
The Podocarpus species that we stock prefer a well-drained soil in a sunny position, with some protection from cold winds. They need moisture whilst young but once established they will tolerate dry periods. Podocarpus totara, the most widely grown species in New Zealand is a long-lived, slow growing tree that has a dense, rounded crown, giant trunk and grows to 8 – 10m under cultivation. Podocarpus henkelii is a South African beauty which is highly prized for its exquisite 'yellow wood'.
The name is synonymous with strength and durability due to the fact that it can reach a great age and size - in the forest setting it can reach 30m. The Golden Totara (Podocarpus aurea) is a smaller, slower growing tree, very well suited to hedging, which has leaves that become a lovely golden yellow as they age.
From the mountains of Japan and China comes this unusual, cold tolerant conifer. The leaves are long, thick and dark green and the growth is slow and upright. Popular in Japanese temple gardens. Responds well to trimming and is often used for hedges or bonsai. Tough, hardy and evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 4m x 3m
A very attractive form of our native Totara with blue-grey needles of foliage and attractive bark. Good as a specimen in the landscape or can be trimmed to form a dense hedge. Worthy of planting and very hardy and easy to grow. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 6m x 4m
Whilst this evergreen native tree will eventually reach 30m it won't happen in your life time as it is very slow growing. A highly valued native with a special place in Maori history. Dense, bronze green, stiff narrow leaves adorn a handsome pyramidal tree. Estimated height after 10 years.
Native. A handsome specimen tree for sun or part shade. The stiff narrow leaves are a beautiful golden shade and complement the reddish brown bark. Slow growing, hardy and tolerant of all conditions except wet 'feet'. Height given is 10 year estimate. Evergreen.
Totara were a valuable timer source in early NZ. Maori also used large specimens to craft their war canoes. The peeling bark was used for roofing material and for fashioning food baskets.