Hook. f., Fl. N.Z., I., p. 235, t. 53—Handbook, p. 260; Carr., Conif., p. 501; Gord., Pin., p. 139; Henk. and Hochst., Nadelhölz, p. 373.
P. trichomanoides, Don, var. alpina; Parl. in DC. Prodromus, XVI., pl. II., p. 499.
A monœcious shrub or small tree, 5–20 feet high; branches numerous, short, stout; cladodia crowded glaucous, very coriaceous, varying greatly in size—half an inch to an inch in length,—cuneate, or linear rhomboid, or linear oblong, almost entire or variously lobed or toothed, margin erose. Fl.: male—in terminal fasciculi of 3–5 small, shortly peduncled catkins; female—on the margins of reduced cladodia or at the base of others; ovules two to four; cup fleshy, and largely compressed.
Hab. North Island: Ruahine Mountains—Colenso; Tongariro—Bidwill.
South Island: Common on the mountains; sea level near Hokitika, etc.,—T.K. Ascends to 5,000 feet near Nelson (according to Bidwill.)
The settlers in the South Island term this plant indifferently tanekaha and toa-toa.
Easily distinguished by its bushy habit, its crowded simple cladodia and 3–4-seeded fruit; the nuts are inverted, with a membranous arillode which is developed considerably above the margin of the fleshy cup.
The trunks of this species are used for levers by bushmen on the West Coast, but are rarely of sufficient dimensions to be valued for other purposes, except perhaps as fencing rails, for which their strength and durability would be well adapted. In the Handbook of the N.Z. Flora the trunk is said to be “sometimes two feet in diameter.” I do not remember to have seen a specimen more than one-third of that size, and Mr. Buchanan informs me that his experience is the same.
The young state of this plant closely resembles that of P. glauca, but the first formed cladodia are shorter, broader, and more coriaceous in all stages; it is easily distinguished from that species and from P. trichomanoides, but I have no doubt that it will ultimately prove identical with the Tasmanian P. rhomboidalis, Rich., (P. aspleniifolia, Lab.), for although
specimens from alpine habitats look very different to that plant, fruited specimens from low levels are undistinguishable. I have not had the opportunity of examining male catkins of P. rhomboidalis, but believe they are longer and more slender than those of our plant.