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Foliage (upper side) on a tree in Jardin Botanico Reinaldo Espinosa, Loja, Ecuador [Réjean Drouin, 2016.11].


Foliage (lower side) on a tree in Jardin Botanico Reinaldo Espinosa, Loja, Ecuador [Réjean Drouin, 2016.11].


Forest sectional illustration showing typical emergent podocarps (primarily R. rospigliosii in primary Andean forest (Figure 4 from Yaguana et al. 2012).


Distribution of 72 occurrences recorded on GBIF as of 2016.11.


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Conservation status 2010: protocol 3.1

Retrophyllum rospigliosii

(Pilger) C.N. Page 1989

Common names

Pino hayuelo (Farjon 2008).

Taxonomic notes

Syn: Podocarpus rospigliosii Pilger 1923; Decussocarpus rospigliosii (Pilg.) de Laub. 1969; Nageia rospigliosii (Pilg.) de Laub. 1987 (Farjon 1998).


Trees to 30 m tall and 40 cm dbh, with an oval crown commonly branched from above 3 m. Bark scaly. Leaves light green, 1 cm long, opposite with a whole margin, flattened along the branches, with petioles almost nonexistent. Flowers cream-colored, 1 cm lang, with ovoid green fruits 3 cm long bearing a single seed. A very slow-growing tree (Nieto and Rodriguez 2003).

Distribution and Ecology

Western Venezuela, east Colombia, central Peru (Farjon 1998). Native to the wet forests of the Andes, it grows best at 1500-3500 m elevation, where average annual temperatures are 10°-18°C and annual precipitation is 1500-2500 mm (Nieto and Rodriguez 2003). Zone 10 (cold hardiness limit between -1°C and +4.4°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

The tree needs constant humidity and cloudines, which it finds in habitats that include pre-mountainous wet and very wet forest, low mountainous wet and very wet forest, and mountainous pluvial forest. The tree develops best on gentle slopes, fertile river lowlands, plateaus, and small depressions. It grows in wet, clay or clay-sand, deep, relatively fertile soils with good to slow drainage and acid pH (Nieto and Rodriguez 2003).

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 R. rospigliosii and Prumnopitys_harmsiana; 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 (exceeding, for instance, any values in the lowland Amazon raindforest). Yaguana et al. (2012) describe this site as "one of the last remnants of these 'giant forests' of Podocarpaceae in the tropical Andes," and go on to explain "Generally, Podocarpaceae species in Neotropical forests are not dominant in forests, but are found at low density in high diversity forests, mixing many species of different families of angiosperms. However, there is evidence that Retrophyllum rospigliosii is, or was, an exception. In the literature, there are reports of pure stands or forests dominated by large trees of R. rospigliosii in the Andean forests of the Magadalena River basin in Colombia and in Peru, in the region of Oxapampa, in the department of Pasco, where the first record and taxonomic description of this species occurred. All these reports indicate that the giant forests of R. rospigliosii in the other Andean countries no longer exist at present, they have been cleared by the extraction of wood." [in trans., citations omitted].

The IUCN reports that this taxon is "vulnerable." It faces a high risk of extinction in the wild due to exploitation and habitat loss/decline, which have led to recent and ongoing declines in population size.

Big tree

There are few data. The largest specimen found in the study by Yaguana et al. (2012) described above was 47 m tall with a 145.5 cm dbh.




The wood is easily worked, used for furniture, veneer, moldings, wood shaving boards, boxes, and general cabinetry. It is also used for light poles, paper pulp, and pencils (Nieto and Rodriguez 2003).


In Peru, it is reported from the National Park Yanachaga Chemillen.



Farjon, A. 2008. Retrophyllum rospigliosii. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3., accessed 2010.10.04.

Nieto, V. M. and J. Rodriguez. 2003. Decussocarpus rospigliosii. Species description in the Tropical Tree Seed Manual. Available, accessed 2007.08.31, now defunct.

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.

See also

Last Modified 2016-11-24