The Gymnosperm Database


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Page 1989

Common names

Taxonomic notes

A genus of five species:

All species in this genus were part of Nageia until Page (1989) segregated them. At the time, the segregation seemed arbitrary and was unsupported by any statement of rationale. Herbert et al. (2002) used a combination of anatomical characters and molecular methods including trnL-F sequences, chloroplast RFLPs and RAPDs to compare the various species of Retrophyllum to their sister taxa in the Podocarpaceae. Their results indicate genus is apparently monophyletic, and is sister to Nageia and Afrocarpus. Within the genus, there is a clear correspondence between geography and phylogeny: the two New Caledonian species, R. comptonii and R. minus, are most closely related; next is the Fijian species R. vitiense; and these three show a surprisingly close relationship to one of the South American species, R. rospigliosii. The other South American species, R. piresii, is extremely rare and Herbert et al. (2002) were unable to extract a usable molecular sample from the one herbarium specimen that they could sample. The molecular methods used included several types of markers and several different analytical methods and delivered robust results.


Distribution and Ecology

Malesia, New Caledonia, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia (Farjon 1998).

Big tree






Plants of this genus have been found in early Miocene (about 20 million years ago) sediments in southern New Zealand (Pole 2007).


Herbert, J., P.M. Hollingsworth, M.F. Gardner, R.R. Mill, P.I. Thomas, and T. Jaffré. 2002. Conservation genetics and phylogenetics of New Caledonian Retrophyllum (Podocarpaceae) species. New Zealand Journal of Botany 40:175-188. Available:, accessed 2009.03.23, now defunct.

See also

Last Modified 2017-12-29