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Tree Botanics

Tanekaha Previous

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Other Names: (Phyllocladus trichomanoides) Celery Pine

The Tanekaha, member of the Podocarpaceae family can be distinguished from its similar counterparts & cousins Toatoa by its much smaller phylloclades (a flattened stem or branch having the function of a leaf) which are pinnately (of a leaf) having leaflets or primary divisions arranged on each side of a common stalk.) arranged on a rachis (in a pinnately compound leaf or frond) the prolongation of the petiole along which the leaflets are disposed) and are not nearly as leathery or tough. The tree presents a conical shape attaining physical heights of up to 25m, with a straight, tapering main trunk up to 1m in diameter.  The limbs/branches are whorled and spreading the structure forming a handsome and graceful tree, which growing naturally reaches maturity  between 200 & 500 years.  Younger trees have a more pyramidal form, the older specimen generally having a more spreading characteristic. The bark is a reddish-brown on older trees, but a more greenish-grey on younger ones.  It can be vertically fissured however gives a smooth appearance.  Lichen growth may give it a patchy appearance.  The bark is rich in tannin (the reddish compound that gives the tanning properties to oak bark or the whitish compound that occurs in large quantities in nutgalls (common tannin, tannic acid)). The leaves appear as cladodes (a leaflike flattened branch that resembles and functions as a leaf. Also called cladode.), 1cm - 2.5cm long, alternate, thick, glabrous and short-stemmed. The male strobili (a reproductive structure characterized by overlapping scalelike parts, as a pine cone or the fruit of the hop.) are 8mm - 12mm long in terminal clusters of 5 - 10.  The female flowers are produced in clusters on the margins of the modified cladodes near the tip of the branchlets.  The Tanekaha flowers between October - January, the male catkins in clusters of 5 - 10 at the tips.  The compressed nut half projects beyond its fleshy cupule (a cup-shaped whorl of hardened, cohering bracts, as in the acorn.) grows to only 3mm in length, ripening around the month of April. The Tanekaha populates lowland forest areas from North Cape to northern Marlborough & Nelson, populating the majority of the North island. Its wood is yellowish-white, strong & durable & very elastic.  Formerly it has been used for making fishing rods and early settlers used the timbers for manufacturing walking sticks.  The Maori used to obtain a red dye from the tannin rich bark for cloaks/clothing and cloths. Tanekaha is also known as the Celery Pine.