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A large tree growing in native habitat [© Simon G. Haberle] (Haberle and Bennett 1999).


A sapling in typical bog habitat, Patagonia [Jeff Bisbee, 2013.02].


Branches and bark on a tree in habitat, Patagonia [Jeff Bisbee, 2013.02].


Foliage and mature seed cones on a tree in habitat [Jeff Bisbee, 2013.02].


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Conservation status

Pilgerodendron uviferum

(D. Don) Florin 1930

Common names

Ciprès de la Guaitecas.

Taxonomic notes

The sole species in Pilgerodendron Florin 1930 (Moore 1983). Syn: Juniperus uvifera D. Don ex Lambert 1828; Libocedrus tetragona (Hooker) Endl.; Thuja tetragona Hooker.


Narrowly pyramidal tree 1.5-10 m; trunk up to ca. 35 cm diameter; bark dark brown, flaking in long strips; shoots tetragonal. Leaves scale-like, imbricate, in 4 rows, (1.8-)2-4 × 1.5-3 mm, ovate, obtuse, sometimes reflexed. Male and female cones on different branches. Cones with 4-6 scales; upper and middle scales with 1-2, 2-winged seeds in fruit. Female cones 8-10 × ca. 8 mm, borne on short shoots; scales oblanceolate, the outer pair with a rigid dorsal spine ca. 3 mm, sometimes arcuate. Seeds with wide, oblique wing about twice as long as other, narrower, wing (Moore 1983).

Distribution and Ecology

Western Chile, at latitudes from 39.5° to 54° S in the coastal and Andes ranges; also western Argentina from 41° to 47° S in the Chubut, Neuquén, Rio Negro, and Santa Cruz districts on the E slope of the Andes. Found in Drimys-Nothofagus betuloides coastal forest or locally dominant in open stands on sheltered lowland bogs further inland, at 0-150 m elevation (Moore 1983, WCMC 1998); also in association with Nothofagus dombeyi and Saxegothaea conspicua. Due to its great longevity and tolerance for bog soils, Pilgerodendron bog forests are a stable vegetation type that may persist for millennia, although it is vulnerable to rare, severe fire (Bannister et al. 2012).

Distribution data, compiled from various herbarium records available online.

This is probably the southernmost conifer in the world (the second most southerly is Lepidothamnus fonkii, also in Chile, and incidentally the smallest of all conifers). In northern parts of its range it is commonly associated with Fitzroya (Farjon 1998).

Pilgerodendron is vulnerable to habitat loss and exploitation. The WCMC (1998) reports: "Large-scale destruction of the forest during colonial times and the widespread opening up of the lowland areas have led to the [extirpation] of the species from most of its original distribution. It is slow to mature and its regeneration is very poor, especially under a canopy." The species is fully protected under Appendix I of CITES (the Convention On International Trade In Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna And Flora).

Big tree


Ages to 880 years are reported by Bannister et al. (2012), who also note that mature trees commonly produce rings less than 1 mm wide.


Some work has been done, notably by Julian Szeicz, who found trees more than 500 years old (Haberle and Bennett 1999).




The taxon is named to honor Robert Knud Friedrich Pilger (1876-1953), a German botanist noted for his work with conifers (especially the Taxaceae) and as director of the Berlin botanic garden and museum. "Uviferum" is a most unusual epithet and means "grape-bearer."


Bannister, Jan R., Pablo J. Donoso, and Jürgen Bauhus. 2012. Persistence of the slow growing conifer Pilgerodendron uviferum in old-growth and fire-disturbed southern bog forests. Ecosystems 15(7):1158-1172.

Florin, R. 1930. Pilgerodendron, eine neue Koniferengattung aus Süd-Chile. Svensk Botanisk Tidskrift 24(1):132-135.

Haberle, Simon and Keith Bennett. 1999. Late Quaternary Environmental Dynamics of Southwestern Chile,, accessed 2000.02.02, now defunct.

WCMC [World Conservation Monitoring Centre - Trees]. 1998. Pilgerodendron uviferum,, accessed 1998.02.16, now defunct.

See also

Farjon (2005) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.

Last Modified 2014-12-05