The Gymnosperm Database


A tree at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, South Africa [R. Van Pelt, 2003].


Foliage on a tree at Durban Botanical Garden, South Africa [R. Van Pelt, 2003].


Immature cones on a tree at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, South Africa [R. Van Pelt, 2003].


Ornamental tree at Quail Botanical Garden, California [C.J. Earle, 2004.04.06].


Detail of expanding shoot on a tree at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, California. Width of view about 20 cm [C.J. Earle, 1998.03.12].


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Conservation status 2010: protocol 2.3, needs updating

Podocarpus henkelii

Stapf 1923

Common names

Henkel yellowwood, East Griqualand yellowwood, Natal yellowwood, bastergeelhout; umSonti (X) (Palmer and Pittman 1972).

Taxonomic notes

Syn: P. ensisculus Melville 1954 (de Laubenfels 1985); Podocarpus thunbergii var. falcata Sim. (Palmer and Pittman 1972).


"[A] tall and beautiful tree very densely branched with a grey to khaki-coloured bark which sometimes peels in large pieces. The foliage is distinctive, a dense, heavy, shiny, dark green, conspicuously drooping.

"The leaves are spirally arranged or nearly opposite, or sometimes crowded at the ends of the branches. The adult leaves are usually more than [9 cm] long - up to [15 cm] or more - and [13 mm] wide, with the widest point about the middle. They taper to both ends. This species is sometimes confused with P. latifolius. The shape of the leaves helps to distinguish them for the true yellowwood has leaves more or less the same thickness in the middle, tapering only towards the apex.

"The male cone is [1.3-3.7 cm] long and is borne singly or in small groups together. The olive-green seed of the female tree, up to [2.5 cm] in length, has a leathery shell and a small, blue-green, thickened stalk which is never fleshy" (Palmer and Pittman 1972).

Distribution and Ecology

South Africa and Tanganika. Based on data from 11 collection localities, it grows at elevations of 1390 ±440 m. Within its range, mean annual temperature is 16.7°C, with an average minimum in the coldest month of 6.3°C, and a mean annual precipitation of 900 mm (Biffin et al. 2011, Table S5). Zone 10 (cold hardiness limit between -1°C and +4.4°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

It grows "mainly on the southern slopes of forested hills in East Griqualand and southern Natal where there is a good rainfall and where mists are frequent. Reports of its occurrence in Swaziland and the Transvaal have been proved inaccurate" (Palmer and Pittman 1972).

Big tree




A popular ornamental, particularly in South Africa (Palmer and Pittman 1972).



"This tree was named after Dr J.S. Henkel, formerly of the Forestry Department, who was the first to realize that this was a distinct species of yellowwood" (Palmer and Pittman 1972).


See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Last Modified 2017-12-29