Type A. Fendler 1289, Tovar, Cordillera de Mérida, Venezuela. Pilger described Podocarpus harmsiana on the basis of collections of foliage and pollen cones, and, two years later, described P. utilior on the basis of a collection from Peru. These have now been confirmed to be the same species (Farjon 2010).
Trees to 35 m tall and 180 cm dbh, with an erect trunk bearing ascending and spreading branches, forming a rounded crown. Bark first smooth, later becoming scaly, exfoliating in thin strips; purple-brown, weathering to gray. Foliage on young plants straight to falcate, 20-30×2-4 mm, apex acute. Foliage on mature plants alternate, twisted at a petiolate base to appear two-ranked, slightly curved, (8-)15-20×2-3.5 mm with a raised midrib on both upper and lower sides; apex mostly obtuse; dark green above, glaucous below. Pollen cones borne on 3-4 cm long lateral axillary spikes near the ends of branches, with 15-20 cones axillary to 2 mm long bracts, cones each 8-10×2 mm. Seed cones solitary on 1.5-2.5 cm long axillary twigs, with an epimatium containing an ovoid, slightly flattened, rugose seed; at maturity the cone is subglobose, up to 10 mm diameter, greenish yellow. Differs from P. montana in that the latter species has a leaf midvein grooved on the upper side, and grows at somewhat greater elevations (Eckenwalder 2009, Farjon 2010).
The Andean mountain areas of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, at elevations of (1,000)1500-2,200(-2,800) m, corresponding to lower montane and montane settings. Uncommon, mostly occurring as individuals or small groves in primary and secondary forest. Most collections are from Bolivia and Peru. The native habitat type is being lost to deforestation, but since the actual area of occupancy is not well known, neither are the implications of this loss for species conservation (Eckenwalder 2009, Farjon 2010).
A forest inventory conducted by Yaguana et al. at a reserve adjoining Podocarpus National Park in Ecuador illustrates the complexity of native podocarp forests in the Andes (this particular site being at an elevation of 2,100 m). In a 1 ha plot there were 1,091 trees representing 171 tree species; the two most dominant species, representing 80% of total wood volume, were the podocarps P. harmsiana and Retrophyllum rospigliosii; the plot also included "numerous species of Rubiaceae, Lauraceae, Meliaceae, Myrtaceae and Melastomataceae" as well as a few Podocarpus oleifolius (Yaguana et al. 2012). The plot timber volume of 652 m3ha-1 is very high compared to typical Neotropical forests; Yaguana et al. (2012) describe this site as "one of the last remnants of these 'giant forests' of Podocarpaceae in the tropical Andes."
There are few data. The largest specimen found in the study by Yaguana et al. (2012) described above was 29 m tall with a 128.3 cm dbh.
Farjon (2010) reports that it occurs in Machu Pichu National Park in Peru. Also reported from National Park Yanachaga Chemillen, Peru. Rarely seen in arboreta and botanical gardens; not known to be used as an ornamental.
The epithet remembers German botanist H. A. T. Harms (1870-1942), a colleague of Pilger and an editor of Das Pflanzenreich, which published the original description of the species (Eckenwalder 2009).
Yaguana, Celso, Deicy Lozano, David A. Neill, and Mercedes Asanza. 2012. Diversidad florística y estructura del bosque nublado del Río Numbala, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador: El “bosque gigante” de Podocarpaceae adyacente al Parque Nacional Podocarpus. Revista Amazonica: Ciencia Y Tecnología 1(3):226-247.
Last Modified 2016-11-24