Plant Collector: Podocarpus henkelii

Podocarpus henkelii looks handsome all 12 months of the year

Podocarpus henkelii looks handsome all 12 months of the year

One of my favourite trees here is this African podocarpus. It must be fifty years old by now and stands some 8 metres high. About 25 years ago, we built part of our nursery around it but we made sure it remained unaffected. Now, as we turn that nursery area into garden, we are really pleased that we kept it as a feature tree for our planned Palm Walk. You can’t hurry up maturity on slow growing trees. Not that it has any connection to palms but it fits right in to that slightly exotic theme.

Henkelii comes from the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal area of South Africa. In the wild, it now has protected status but it is common as a garden plant in its homeland because it is an elegant, slow growing evergreen tree. It is commonly referred to as the Yellowwood because its timber is apparently yellow and excellent for making furniture. This may account for it needing to be protected. The narrow leaves measure over 20cm long and hang in a sickle shape. We know ours is a female because it produces plenty of seed which looks like green olives but as henkelii is dioecious, it needs both male and female plants to get fertile seed. In other words, the seed from our tree is sterile because it is a solitary specimen.

The podocarps are a big family and widespread, though mostly from milder areas south of the equator. Our native totara is a member.

1 thought on “Plant Collector: Podocarpus henkelii

  1. Pingback: Tikorangi Notes: Friday 20 May, 2011 « Tikorangi The Jury Garden

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