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One of New Zealand's most beautiful and useful trees, its straight, tapering trunk is clearly distinguishable from its native contemporaries, towering at heights of up to 50m with a diameter of some 2m at maximum growth cycle. It is easily recognised by its spreading crown and pendulous branchlets, and in natural stands maturity is reached in approximately 300 years, however the actual life-span can range between 800 - 900 years. The Rimu is a true rainforest tree and in some environments is the main canopy tree, while in others, more scattered and irregualrly placed as an emergent tree from the existing forest line. Rimu was formerly abundant in lowland and hilly forests throughout the North, South & Stewart islands, from sea level up to 600m. Main standing reserves are on the West coast of the South Island.
The bark is dark greyish-brown and sheds in irregular flakes leaving a wave pattern on the main trunk.
When young, it forms an elegant pyramidal tree with typically pendulous limbs. The leaves overlap all around the branchlet, are sharply pointed and 4 - 7mm long X 1mm wide. They are olive green in colour, small, close-set and scale-like. This stage persists for many years before the physical characteristics of adulthood and subsequent development are visible and the adult form is assumed. The leaves become smaller as adulthood is attained, more closely set and appressed to the branchlet.
Rimu is a dioecious species (male & female flowers on separate plants), flowers appearing at the tip of branchlets; the male occur soiltary or sometimes in pairs from the strobulus (typical within the Podocarpaceae family; a cone-like structure, such as a pine cone, the fruit of the hop, or a cone of a club moss, that consists of overlapping sporophylls (a leaf in ferns and other spore-bearing plants that bears the sporangia/spore case), females solitary and appear between the months of September - January. The seeds are dark, about 3mm long and are set on a fleshy red base from March onwards.
Commonly known as the Red Pine, the rimu has been the principal native timber tree of New Zealand, being used for all aspects of building, panelling, plywood manufacture etc. The heartwood is usually beautifully grained making it excepitonally suitable for furniture making.