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Tree Botanics

Kahikatea (White Pine) Previous


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Other Names: (Podocarpus (Dacrycarous) dacrydioides) - White Pine

This is the tallest of the New Zealand forest trees, attaining physical heights of up to 60m, with trunks recorded at 2m diameter or more, often with buttressed roots, especially if growing in swampy ground.  Member of the Podocarpaceae family, its very straight main trunk is usually clear of all lateral branches for a considerable height, the tree maturing in approximately 250 - 400 years. It is abundant in high rainfall areas and lowland forest (swampy) throughout New Zealand where it is often seen as by far the most dominant tree within the existing forest canopy or moist alluvial flats.  Formerly one of the most common native trees, timber milling & land clearance have greatly reduced its habitats, though it is not uncommon to see smaller groups of the White Pine on farmland/large areas of open ground with the right growing conditions. As with many New Zealand trees, the young or juvenile tree differ greatly from the adults, presenting a narrow conical crown.  The trunk is often fluted or buttressed at the base.  The dark grey bark is more or less smooth scaling off in round flakes. Leaves are scale-like, close set approximately 4 - 6mm long on weeping pendulous branches.  They are sharply pointed and more or less appressed (lying flat or pressed closely against something, as hairs on certain plant stems) to the branchlets.  Seedling trees have soft, flat bronze-green pointed leaves. Kahikatea is dioecious (having the male and female reproductive organs borne on separate individuals of the same species), the flowers appearing from September - October;  male flowers are solitary catkins on branchlet tips, the female flowers are minute and singular on the branchlet tips also. The small fruits appear as a swollen orange fleshy footstalk on top of which sits a black seed covered with a waxy coating or bloom.  The pale blue (initially) seed in a green aril (a fleshy, usually brightly coloured cover of a seed, arising from the hilum- the scar on a seed, such as a bean, indicating the point of attachment to the funiculus- or funiculus - A stalk connecting an ovule or a seed with the placenta) which ripens from March - May to the black nut-like seed as detailed.  In the autumn they can often be seen on the ground below the tree canopy as with Beech nuts etc. The Kahikatea is also known as the White Pine.