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NZ Plants

Prumnopitys taxifolia - mātaī, black pine

Podocarp family: Podocarpaceae

Prumnopitys taxifolia is a tall forest tree with dark green linear leaves that differ from those of miro in that they are are straight and not curved  and are arranged into irregular and not flattened rows. The bark is easily distinguished by its thick multi-coloured flakes. Small, fleshy cones are formed. Initially the ovule is covered by an integument and a thin epimatium (derived from the seed scale) but after fertilisation the epimatium develops into a fleshy tissue ensheathing the ovule to the inside.
Formerly known as Podocarpus spicatus.

An endemic species found throughout New Zealand.

Matai life cycle

Vegetative characteristics

Reproductive characteristics

Adult plant form: tree up to 25 m

Pollen and ovule cones: on separate trees

Adult leaf form: flattened, straight and taper to a dull point; white on underside

Pollen cone: in groups of 10-15 on a fertile stem (spike); each cone is 5-10 mm long with10-30 scales

Adult leaf size: 10-15 x 1-2 mm

Ovule cone: 40-60 mm long fertile stem with 3-12 fertile scales each bearing an ovule, and several sterile scales and bracts below

Adult leaf arrangement: spirally arranged and spreading

Ovule cone position: in axils of leaves

Juvenile plant form: bushy tree with interlacing branching (divaricating ); persists for up to 50 years

Ovule coverings: an inner covering (integument) and an outer covering (epimatium) ensheathing the ovule

Juvenile leaf form: scale-like to linear and flattened, sharp tipped and spreading

Ovule pore (micropyle): directed downward

Juvenile leaf size: scale leaves 3-5 mm; spreading leaves 5-10 mm long

Mature seed cone: a slender stalk bearing several, 6-10 mm diam. seeds each with a hard woody seed coat (integument) and a  purple fleshy covering (epimatium)

Juvenile leaf arrangement: interlaced stems with sparse scale leaves;  tips of stems with longer spreading leaves, flattened in two rows

Stem(receptacle) below seed: cone stalk is not fleshy