The Gymnosperm Database


A large tree growing near Plettenberg Bay, South Africa [V. Dinets, 2008].


Crown of the above tree [V. Dinets, 2008].


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Conservation status 2010: protocol 2.3, needs updating

Podocarpus latifolius

(Thunb.) R.Br. ex Mirb. 1825

Common names

True yellowwood, Opregte Geelhout (Leistner 1966).

Taxonomic notes

Synonymy (Leistner 1966, de Laubenfels 1985):

"No justification was found for upholding var. latior Pug. as there are intermediates connecting it with the typical form" (Leistner 1966).


"Tree up to 33 m high with straight clean bole up to 3 m in diameter or stunted tree or shrub no more than 2 m high. Bark dark grey to khaki-coloured, smooth in young trees, later longitudinally fissured and exfoliating in long strips. Branchlets slightly angular, marked with grooves from decurrent leaf bases. Terminal buds 2-3.5 mm in diameter; outer bud scales narrowly triangular, acuminate, upper half sometimes recurved, 4-6 mm long and about 1.5 mm wide. Leaves spirally arranged to subopposite, often crowded in upper parts of shoots, spreading, dark green to glaucous and shiny above; adult leaves straight to very slightly falcate, linear-elliptic, more or less parallel-sided in middle portion, rather abruptly contracted in upper 1/4 or 1/5, apiculate to subobtuse, (2-) 3.5-6 (-10) cm long and (0.5-) 0.6-0.8 (-l.3) cm wide; juvenile leaves up to 17 cm long and up to 17 times longer than broad; midrib raised on lower surface, on upper surface slightly raised in lower 2/3; margins slightly reflexed; stomata confined to lower surface (very rarely a few present on upper surface), arranged in 20-35 ± distinct longitudinal rows on either side of midrib. Male cones solitary, rarely in groups of 2, sessile or subsessile, (0.8-) 1-2 (-3) cm long, elongating to 3 cm or more after shedding pollen, (2.5-) 3-4.5 (-6) mm in diameter, pinkish; outer sterile scales at base narrowly to very narrowly triangular, often distinctly keeled, subentire to denticulate, 3-4 mm long and about 1.5-2 mm wide; terminal lobe of fertile scale broadly triangular to widely ovate, about 0.6 mm long and 0.6-0.7 mm wide, lacerate; pollen sacs about 1.3 mm long and 0.6-0.7 mm in diameter. Female cones solitary, on naked stalks (1.5-) 5-10 (-19) mm long and about 1 mm in diameter; receptacle fleshy, glaucous green, turning pink to reddish-purple when ripe, sweet-tasting and semi-transparent, 8-14 mm long and 8-14 mm wide, with 1, less commonly 2 fertile scales, 1 or sometimes 2 seeds maturing on each receptacle. Seed obovoid to subglobose, often slightly apiculate, glaucous to slate-coloured, sometimes turning dark violet, 7-11 mm long; shell 0.5-1.2 mm thick, consisting of 3 layers: the outermost thin and leathery, the middle one varies in thickness, is slightly woody, often contains cavities filled with resin, the inner thin and pergamentaceous" (Leistner 1966).

Distribution and Ecology

South Africa. Based on data from 70 collection localities, it grows at elevations of 1310 ±660 m. Within its range, mean annual temperature is 19.1°C, with an average minimum in the coldest month of 10.3°C, and a mean annual precipitation of 1120 mm (Biffin et al. 2011, Table S5). Zone 10 (cold hardiness limit between -1°C and +4.4°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

"Found in the Cape Peninsula, the high forests in the southern districts of the Cape Province and in coastal and midland climax forests from the Eastern Cape to the northern Transvaal. Occurs as a tall straight tree in high temperate forests, and as a low spreading tree or shrub on exposed rocky slopes and in open coastal bush" (Leistner 1966).

Big tree



I have found no record of its use, but LaMarche (1982) observed that this "small but very slow-growing tree of the Mediterranean climate region in the southwest Cape, would yield accurate chronologies with intensive study."




The commonest podocarp in Southern Africa, this is one of the most abundant trees in the Knysna forests. Both seeds and receptacles are eaten by birds and other animals (Leistner 1966).


LaMarche, Valmore C., Jr. 1982. Comment (to "Southern Africa by T.G.J. Dyer). Pp. 83-84 in M.K. Hughes, P.M. Kelly, J.R. Pilcher, and V.C. LaMarche Jr. (eds.), Climate from tree rings. London: Cambridge University Press.

Leistner, O.A. 1966. Podocarpaceae. Pp. 34-41 in L.E. Codd, B. De Winter and H.B. Rycrodt (eds.), Flora of Southern Africa, Volume I. Republic of South Africa Department on Agricultural Technical Services (as P. falcatus).

See also

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 2017-12-29