Matai, black pine
Dacrydium taxifolium Banks et Solander ex D.Don in Lamb., Dacrydium mai A.Cunn., D. mayi Houtte. ex Gord., Podocarpus matai Lamb. Ex Hook.f., Prumnopitys spicata Kent in Veitch, Stachycarpus spicatus (Mirbel) Masters, Podocarpus taxifolia
Vascular – Native
Gymnosperm Trees & Shrubs
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 = 38
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. Uncommon on Stewart Island.
Lowland forest. Often in drier climates, where it can dominate alluvial soils which are waterlogged/flooded in winter and dry in summer. Seems to prefer base-rich substrates and soils.
Dioecious conifer 25(-30) m tall. Trunk 1-2 m diam. Bark dark brown (almost black), falling in thick circular flakes, leaving a distinctive hammer-like scar patterning on trunk. Wood dark brown to rich yellow-brown, very hard. Juveniles filiramulate, with distinctive, dark brown, slender, flexuous, divarciating branchlets. Leaves brown, pale yellow, or dirty white, 5-10 x 1-2 mm, linear-lanceolate, apex acute; adults dark green, somewhat glaucous above, glaucous below, 10-15 x 1-2 mm, subdistichous, linear, straight to subfalcate, obtuse, often apiculate. Male cones (strobili) in spikes, 30-50 mm long, with 10-30 cones per spike. Ovules on short axillary branches, 3-10 per 40 mm long spike. Fruit a fleshy, oily, aromatic, terpene-tasting, purple-black drupe with a glaucous bloom. Stone more or less circular (5.5-)6-8.5 mm diam., surface dull to semi-glossy, pale orange-yellow to light orange-yellow.
Easily recognised by the distinctive filiramulate divaricating juvenile to subadult growth form, charcoal grey hammered bark, dark green to glaucous adult foliage, spicate male cones, and by the ovoid, plum-coloured drupes.
(October-) November - February
Fruits take 12-18 months to mature. Ripe fruits may be found throughout the year.
Easily grown from fresh seed. Seed may take up to 2 years to germinate 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 matai-dominated forest remain in the country.
prumnopitys: From the Greek prymnos ‘hindmost’ or ‘stern’ and pitys ‘pine’, referring to the location of the resin duct
Where To Buy
Commonly cultivated and frequently sold by most commercial nurseries and outlets - usually from plants raised from seed, however some nurseries stock cutting grown plants raised from adult foliage, thus bypassing the filiramulate, divaricating juvenile growth-form. A very popular garden tree.
Gum from the trunk is the basis for “Matai Beer”, a deep, rich brew still made in some parts of the country. The dark, hard, durable timber is much sought after for floors and furniture.
Prepared by P.J. de Lange for NZPCN, 3 February 2006. Description based on Allan (1961)
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Prumnopitys taxifolia Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/prumnopitys-taxifolia/ (Date website was queried)