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Mature Kahikatea tree
Mature Kahikatea tree
Plant Info
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Pinophyta
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Class: Pinopsida
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Order: Pinales
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Superfamily: {{{superfamilia}}}
Family: Podocarpaceae
Subfamily: {{{subfamilia}}}
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Genus: Dacrycarpus
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Species: D. dacrydioides
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Binomial name
Dacrycarpus dacrydioides
(A.Rich.) de Laub.
Trinomial name
Type Species

Dacrycarpus dacrydioides (Kahikatea) is a coniferous tree endemic to New Zealand.

The tree grows to a height of 55 metres with a trunk exceeding one metre diameter, and is buttressed at the base. It is dominant in lowland forest and wetlands throughout the North and South Islands. The leaves are spirally arranged; on young plants, they are awl-shaped, 3-8 mm long, and twisted at the base to lie spread to the sides of the shoot in a flat plane; on mature trees, they are scale-like, 1-3 mm long, and placed all round the shoot. The cones are highly modified, with the cone scales swelling at maturity into an orange to red, fleshy, aril with a single apical seed 3-5 mm diameter. The seeds are dispersed by birds, which eat the fleshy scale and pass the seeds in their droppings.

Before extensive logging, trees of 60 m height were known, and a specimen at Pirongia Forest Reserve is the tallest native tree in New Zealand at 55.1 m tall.[1]

Until recently the tree was more likely to be referred to by the misleading name "white pine", despite its not being a pine; the Māori name Kahikatea is now more widely used (other Māori names are kaikatea, kahika, katea, kōaka).

Like many other species in the family Podocarpaceae, the classification of Kahikatea has changed over time, having also been placed in the genera Podocarpus and Nageia. Synonyms include P. dacrydioides, D. excelsum, P. thujoides, D. thuioides, D. ferrugineum, N. dacrydioides, N. excelsa, P. excelsus.


Since the wood does not impart an odour, and is clean and lightweight, Kahikatea was used to make boxes for the exporting of butter when the refrigerated export became feasible from Australia and New Zealand in the 1880s.[1] The butter was exported in 56lb slabs, and Kahikatea became less common as the export industry grew.

For Māori, the Kahikatea had many uses. The fleshy aril or koroi was an important food resource, and was served at feasts in great amounts. The wood was also favoured for making bird spears. Soot obtained from burning the heartwood supplied a pigment for traditional tattooing (tā moko).

Kahikatea, along with other trees in privately owned forests, can only be harvested under a permit system and if sustainable harvesting techniques are used.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Gymnosperm Database - Dacrycarpus dacrydioides

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