Prumnopitys taxifolia

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Prumnopitys taxifolia
1780 illustration in the Natural History Museum, London
1780 illustration in the Natural History Museum, London
Conservation status
least concern
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Podocarpaceae
Genus: Prumnopitys
Species: P. taxifolia
Binomial name
Prumnopitys taxifolia
(Banks & Sol. ex D. Don) de Laub.

Prumnopitys taxifolia (Mataī) is an endemic New Zealand coniferous tree.

It grows up to 40m high, with a trunk up to two metres in diameter. The leaves are linear to sickle-shaped, 10 to 15mm long and 1.5-2mm broad. The seed cones are highly modified, reduced to a central stem 30-40 mm long bearing 1 to 6 scales, each scale maturing berry-like, 10-15 mm long, violet-purple with a soft edible pulp covering the single seed. The seeds are dispersed by the Kererū (New Zealand Pigeon), which eats the 'berries' and passes the seeds in its droppings.

It is distinguished from the related Miro (Prumnopitys ferruginea) by the shorter, slenderer leaves and the globose violet-purple cones.

The scientific name taxifolia derives from the resemblance of the leaves to those of the yew (Taxus). In the past the species, like the other species of Prumnopitys, was often included in Podocarpus; in this species under the name Podocarpus spicatus.

The timber of this tree was used extensively in New Zealand for flooring during the mid-20th century.

References and external links