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Kahikatea Trees

Kahikatea Trees (Nature)

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Dacrycarpus dacrydioides

Dacrycarpus dacrydioides (kahikatea in the Māori language) is a coniferous tree endemic to New Zealand.

The tree grows to a height of 55 m with a trunk exceeding one m in diameter, and is buttressed at the base. It is dominant in lowland forest and wetlands throughout the North and South Islands. The leaves are spirally arranged; on young plants, they are awl-shaped, 3 to 8 mm long, and twisted at the base to lie spread to the sides of the shoot in a flat plane; on mature trees, they are scale-like, 1 to 3 mm long, and placed all round the shoot. The cones are highly modified, with the cone scales swelling at maturity into an orange to red, fleshy, aril with a single apical seed 3 to 5 mm in diameter. The seeds are dispersed by birds, which eat the fleshy scale and pass the seeds in their droppings.

Before extensive logging, trees of 80 m height were known. A specimen on private land near Matirangi Forest in the Tiranaki region is the tallest native tree in New Zealand at 56.4 m.

Until recently the tree was more likely to be referred to by the misleading name "white pine", despite its not being a pine; the Māori name kahikatea is now more widely used (other Māori names are kaikatea, kahika, katea, kōaka).

Like many other species in the family Podocarpaceae, the classification of kahikatea has changed over time, having also been placed in the genera Podocarpus and Nageia.


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