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An early illustration (Kirk 1889).


Seeds and epimatium on dried specimens (Webb and Simpson 2001).


Distribution map (Metcalf 2002).


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Conservation status 2010: protocol 2.3, needs updating

Podocarpus acutifolius

Kirk 1883

Common names

Needle-leaved totara, Westland totara.

Taxonomic notes

Syn: Nageia acutifolia (Kirk) Kuntze 1891; Nageia kirkiana Kuntze 1891 (Farjon 1998). Type locality near source of Buller River (Allan 1961). P. totara var. waihoensis Wardle is thought to have originated as a hybrid between P. acutifolius and P. totara (New Zealand Plant Conservation Network 2010)


Shrub or small tree up to 9 m tall and up to 50 cm in diameter. Bark thin, peeling off in short strips or flakes. Leaves straight, narrow, needle-pointed, 1.5-2.5 cm × 0.75-3.5 mm, midvein indistinct, green in shaded settings but a distinctive yellow-green in open areas. Pollen cones 1-2 cm long, axillary, solitary or up to 4 together on common peduncle 2-3 mm long; peduncle furnished above with 2 narrow-triangular keeled scales and below with 4 ovate scales; apiculus obtuse. Ovules solitary or rarely paired on a peduncle 1 mm long; receptacle of 2 obtuse scales usually red, swollen and succulent. Seeds narrowly ovoid (Allan 1961, Metcalf 2002).

Distribution and Ecology

New Zealand: S Island, Marlborough Sounds to Nelson and then down the western side of the island to south Westland (43° 50' S), in lowland and montane forest and scrub (Allan 1961). Based on data from 60 collection localities, it grows at an elevation of 500m. Within its range, mean annual temperature is 10°C, with an average minimum in the coldest month of 0.7°C, and a mean annual precipitation of 2726 mm (Biffin et al. 2011, Table S5).

Big tree






Subject to a fungal leaf spot disease caused by Corynelia tropica (Hood 1985).


Kirk, T. 1883. Description of a new Pine. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 16:370-371. Available:, accessed 2011.03.27.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. 2010. Podocarpus totara var. waihoensis., accessed 2011.10.14.

See also

Last Modified 2013-03-29