Syn.: Podocarpus gracilior Pilger 1903, Decussocarpus gracilior (Pilg.) de Laub. 1969 (Farjon 1998). The species is very similar in appearance and ecology to Afrocarpus falcatus, which occupies similar habitats at more temperate latitudes. Some authorities synonymize A. gracilior under A. falcatus.
Trees to 40 m tall and 250 cm dbh, forming a broad, domed crown in mature trees. Bark first smooth, becoming platy and flaky in larger trees. Branchlets more or less quadrangular within dense foliar units. Leaves spirally arranged, straight or falcate, to 18 cm long in juvenile plants, otherwise 3-6 cm long and 2-4 mm wide, gray-green, apex acute. Seed cones solitary on branchlets; at maturity, a single seed covered by a fleshy epimatium that ripens from green to yellow or orange, oblong, pear-shaped or spherical, 15-20 mm long; the seed has a hard, smooth coat (Farjon 2010).
In appearance it closely resembles A. falcatus, which has slightly smaller leaves (mostly 2-4 cm long), and slightly smaller (to 15 mm long), spherical cones with verrucos skin (like an orange) (Farjon 2010).
Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda (Farjon 1998). Occurs at elevations of 2119 ± 567 m. Within its range, mean annual temperature is 16.8°C, with an average minimum in the coldest month of 8.7°C, and a mean annual precipitation of 1148 mm (Biffin et al. 2011, Table S5).
Zone 10 (cold hardiness limit between -1°C and +4.4°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001). It is a moderately common ornamental in southern California, and perhaps in other warm areas.
The PROTA database account for this species (accessed 2015.02.01). PROTA accounts are focused on commercial forest uses in Africa, and typically include photographs, drawings, names, distribution, and a variety of information relevant to management of the species.
Last Modified 2015-02-01