Podocarpus macrophyllusis mainly represented in cultivation by the following variety:
var. maki Sieb. P. japonicus Hort. Bogor. ex Sieb.; P. chinensis Sw. – An erect-branched shrub or small tree up to 20 ft high. Leaves arranged spirally round the shoot, crowded, erect to spreading, linear, tapering at both ends, 21⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. wide, obtuse or slightly acute at the apex, of firm, rather leathery texture, the midrib prominently raised above and below, yellowish green when young, becoming dark green above.
Although long cultivated in Japan it is not native there, and even in China, whence it came originally, it is apparently known only as a garden plant. A similar podocarpus, found by Forrest in the Tali range of Yunnan, was at first identified as P. macrophyllus but later described as a new species – P. forrestii Craib & W. W. Sm. From P. macrophyllus var. maki it differs only in its dwarfer habit and rather broader leaves. It has apparently never been introduced to cultivation.
P. macrophyllus var. maki was introduced to Britain early in the 19th century but has never been common in gardens, being of slow growth and not perfectly hardy. Two variegated forms of it were introduced from Japan by Fortune in 1861, and again by J. H. Veitch in 1892. In ‘Aureus’ the leaves are margined or striped with golden yellow, and ‘Argenteus’ has a similar variegation in white.
Typical P. macrophyllus is a genuine native of Japan, where it ranges from the central part of the main island to Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands; also of S. China. From the var. maki described above it differs in being a tree up to 50 ft high, with longer and sometimes broader leaves – up to 7 in. long and 1⁄2 in. wide. A variant with long and relatively narrow leaves has been named var. angustifolius Blume.