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NZ Plants

Podocarpus nivalis - snow tōtara

Podocarp family: Podocarpaceae

Podocarpus nivalis varies from a prostrate shrub with wide-spreading branches to a small bush. Foliage is a dark to bronze-green and consists of closely spaced leathery linear leaves. Small, fleshy ovule cones are formed in which a green epimatium (an outgrowth of the seed scale) covers the developing seed. After fertilisation the bases of the fertile and sterile scales fuse and become fleshy to form a red receptacle.
An endemic species found at higher elevations on the North Island to lowland forest on the South Island.
A genus of over 100 species, with two endemic to New Zealand. Other species are found in Africa, Madagascar, Australia, Fiji,Tonga, South and Central America, the Caribbean, southeast Asia, China, Japan and New Guinea.

Vegetative characteristics

Reproductive characteristics

Adult plant form: prostrate shrub up to 3 m

Pollen and ovule cones: on separate plants

Adult leaf form: linear, rigid

Pollen cone: 5-15 mm long

Adult leaf size: 5-15 x 2-4 mm

Ovule cone: 5-8 mm long, 1-2 fertile bracts

Adult leaf arrangement: spiral, close set

Ovule position: on upper surface of a fertile bract subtended by fused sterile  bracts (receptacle)

Juvenile leaf form: no distinct juvenile form

Ovule coverings: an inner covering (integument); an outer covering (epimatium) covers the  entire ovule;

Juvenile leaf size:

Ovule pore (micropyle): directed downward

Juvenile leaf arrangement:

Mature seed cone: fleshy, 10-15 long, 1-2 seeds


Stem(receptacle) below seed: fleshy, derived from basal bracts of the receptacle; red