An evergreen tree 40 to 80 ft high, with a rounded head of erect branches and a trunk 6 to 12 ft in girth; bark bluish black, scaling off in large flakes. On young plants the branches are very slender and pendulous, forming a dense tangle, the leaves thinly disposed on them or only towards the tips in two opposite rows. On mature plants they are set thickly on the twigs in two opposite rows. Each leaf is 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. long, 1⁄16 in. wide, slightly curved, blunt or with a short point, of leathery texture, green above, rather glaucous with faint stomatic lines beneath. The twigs and leaves in this adult state are not unlike those of one of the short-leaved garden varieties of yew. The trees are unisexual; the males producing their cylindrical flowers, each 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. long, in spikes 1 to 2 in. long to which they are attached at right angles; the females produce a black, globose, succulent fruit 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. wide.
Native of both islands of New Zealand from sea level up to 2,000 ft altitude, originally discovered by Banks and Solander during Cook’s first voyage. It is only suitable for the mildest parts of the British Isles and very rare.
P. spicatus and P. ferrugineus are the only New Zealand representatives of the section Stachycarpus, to which the S. American P. andinus also belongs. See further in introductory note, p. 280.
P. ferrugineus D. Don Miro. – A tree up to 80 ft in the wild, with a bark resembling that of P. spicatus. Leaves two-ranked, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, about 1⁄10 in. wide, recurved at the margin, slightly sickle-shaped, yew-green. Fruits fleshy, purplish red with a bluish bloom, about 3⁄4 in. long. The specific epithet ferrugineus refers to the rusty-colour of the leaves of herbarium specimens. It is little known in Britain and almost certainly quite as tender as P. spicatus.