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NZ Plants

Phyllocladus toatoa - toatoa

Celery pine family: Phyllocladaceae

Phyllocladus toatoa is a small tree with distinctly whorled branches. Seedling plants have narrow, flattened needle-like leaves. Adult plants have flattened photosynthetic leaf-like stems (phylloclades).  Phylloclades are in distinct whorls and are divided into broad, blue-green leathery segments arranged in two rows along the phylloclade axis. Minute scale-like leaves are formed on segment margins. Small, fleshy cones are formed. Formerly known as Phyllocladus glaucus.

An endemic species in lowland and lower mountain forest from the central North Island northwards.

More on toatoa: Takana Newsletter


Vegetative characteristics

Reproductive characteristics

Adult plant form: tree up to 15 m

Pollen and ovule cones: on the same or different trees

Phylloclade form: broad, rhomboid to oval, very leathery

Pollen cone: 10-15 mm long, in whorls or clusters at tips of stems

Phylloclade size: 20-40 mm long x 20-80 mm wide

Ovule cone: globular, 3-5 mm with up to 12 fertile scales and several sterile bracts on a short stalk

Phylloclade margin: toothed to lobed

Ovule cone position: cones often replace lower parts of compound phylloclades

Phylloclade arrangement: arranged on either side of whorled stems (rhachides)

Ovule coverings: a single covering (integument)

Stem arrangement: in whorls of 3-5  

Ovule pore (micropyle): directed upward

Adult leaves (denticles): scale-like, 0.5-3 mm, on margin of phylloclade segment

Mature seed cone: each seed develops a white aril at the base and becomes enclosed by enlarged sterile bracts that turn reddish or purplish

Juvenile leaves: singly on stem, narrow-linear (needle-like) 10- 15 mm, deciduous

Stem(receptacle) below seed: stalk not fleshy