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Podocarpus nivalis Hook.

Alpine Totara

Modern name

Podocarpus nivalis Hook.

A low evergreen shrub of dense, bushy habit (but said to be sometimes erect-branched and up to 10 ft high); stems coloured like the leaves when young, glabrous. Leaves densely set, rather irregular in posture, from more or less two-ranked to spreading radially all round the shoot, narrow-oblong, mostly 716 to 34 in. long, 18 to 316 in. wide, very rigid, with thickened margins, more or less abruptly narrowed at the apex to a short, hard point, tapered at the base to an indistinct petiole, dull medium green above, grooved along the line of the midrib, underside more glossy, with a prominent midrib. Fruit (perhaps not borne in this country) a small oblong-ovoid nut borne on a much enlarged, succulent, bright red receptacle.

Native of both islands of New Zealand, mostly between 2,000 and 5,000 ft. It was described in 1843, hut probably not introduced until early this century, and then in several different forms, differing in habit and hardiness. The description of the foliage given above is from plants which are completely hardy and make wide bushes which, even when half-a-century old, are only 1 ft high and retain this habit even in shady woodland. But at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, a plant growing in full sun is about 6 ft high and as much in width.

It is said to hybridise in the wild with P. hallii, and the plant described by Cockayne as var. erectus is believed to be such a hybrid. Two forms of this cross are figured in Conifers in Cultivation (Report of Conifer Conference, 1931, fig. 51)



Other species in the genus