Kahikatea, white pine
Dacrydium excelsum D.Don in Lamb., Dacrydium ferrugineum Houttee ex Gord., Dacrydium thuioides Banks et Solander ex Carr., Nageia excelsa Kuntze, Podocarpus dacrydioides Richard, Podocarpus thujoides R.Br. In Bennett, Podocarpus excelsus (D.Don) Druce; Podocarpus excelsus (D. Don.) Druce
Vascular – Native
Trees & Shrubs - Gymnosperms
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
2n = 20
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2012 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands
Lowland forest, formerly dominant on frequently flooded, and/or poorly drained alluvial soils. Occasionally extends into lower montane forest. Once the dominant tree of a distinct swamp forest type all but extinct in the North Island - the best examples remain on the West Coast of the South Island.
Stout, dioecious, cohort-forming conifer, 50 (-65) m. tall. Trunk 1(-2) m diam., often fluted and buttressed. Bark grey to dark-grey, falling in thick, sinuous flakes. Wood white, odourless. Trunks bare for 3/4 of length, subadults with a distinctive columnar growth habit, branches arising from 1/3 to 1/2 of trunk length. Branchlets slender, drooping. Leaves of juveniles subdistichous, subpatent, narrow-linear, subfalcate, acuminate, decurrent, 3-7 x 0.5-1mm red, wine-red, dark-green to green.; of subadults less than or equal to 4 mm., dark green or red; those of adults 1-2 mm., imbricating, appressed, keel, subtrigonous, lanceolate-subulate to acuminate with broader base, brown-green or glaucous. Male cones terminal, oblong, 10 mm. Pollen pale yellow. Ovule, terminal, solitary glaucescent. Receptacle fleshy, oblong, compressed, warty, 2.5-6.5 mm., yellow to orange-red. Seed broadly obovate to circular (4-)4.5-6 mm diam., purple-black, thickly covered in glaucous bloom.
A distinctive tree of usually swampy alluvial terraces. The columnar growth form of subadults, buttressed and fluted trunk bases, scale-like leaves, and terminal fruits bearing the distinctive circular seeds serve to immediately distinguish this species from all other indigenous conifers.
October - January
February - April
Easily grown from fresh seed. Can be grown from hard-wood cuttings but rather slow to strike.
Not Threatened, although as a forest-type it has been greatly reduced through widespread logging. Very few intact examples of kahikatea-dominated forest remain in the North Island.
dacrycarpus: Tear shaped fruit
dacrydioides: Like a dacrydium
Where To Buy
Commonly cultivated and frequently sold by most commercial nurseries and outlets. A very popular garden tree. A form with distinctly glaucous foliage is occasionally on offer.
Kahikatea is New Zealands tallest indigenous tree. The white odourless timber was used extensively to make butter boxes, for much of the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was this practice which all but eliminated kahikatea-dominated swamp forest from the North Island and northern South Island.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 12 January 2004: Description adapted from Allan (1961).
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Wellington, Government Printer.
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Dacrycarpus dacrydioides Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/dacrycarpus-dacrydioides/ (Date website was queried)