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Volume 10, 1877
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Art. LIII.—A revised Arrangement of the New Zealand Species of Dacrydium, with Descriptions of new Species.

Plates XVIII.—XX.

[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 2nd February, 1877.]

Amongst the Protean plants of New Zealand few genera are in a more unsatisfactory condition than Dacrydium. The unisexual character of the species, the difficulty of procuring good flowering and fruiting specimens from the same individuals, and the local and difficult habitats of several forms, have led to great perplexity, through the combination of distinct species and a want of precision in the limitation of those admitted. It is hoped that the present paper will tend to remove these difficulties, although it must not be looked upon as final, since we may fairly expect that other species will yet be discovered in the mountain districts of the central portion of the North Island and the south-western portion of the South.

Although my attention has been specially directed to this genus for the last ten years, it was not until the commencement of last year that I was able to solve the difficulties by which it was surrounded, and to lay down more precise limitation for the recognized species with descriptions of others new to science. I am pleased to say that Sir Joseph Hooker and myself have independently arrived at the same conclusions, except with regard to a single species, and I take the opportunity of expressing my thanks to him for his valued notes, and for the opportunity so kindly afforded me of comparing several of the original specimens of Bidwill, Lyall, Colenso, and Hector, with my own collections.

The New Zealand species form two natural groups—the first distinguished by the young plants possessing terete spreading leaves which pass by very gradual transition, sometimes extending over a number of years, into the abbreviated and closely imbricated condition, characteristic of the mature state. With one exception all the species of this group are characterized by solitary fruit.

In the second group the young plants exhibit flat, linear, spreading leaves, which for the most part pass abruptly into the quadrifariously imbricated leaves characteristic of the fruiting state: leaves of an intermediate kind are

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rare, and when produced are merely the linear leaves diminished in size. In some specimens of D. kirkii there is reason to believe that this transition is not effected until the tree is thirty or forty years old. In D. bidwillii this change is effected by the end of the second or third year at most, although occasionally branches exhibiting the early form of leaf are produced on the trunk and primary limbs of old specimens. D. colensoi requires an intermediate period, and on old specimens of its most robust mountain form the early leaf state is rarely seen. The members of this group exhibit a strong tendency to produce aggregated fruit which attains its maximum in D. kirkii.

The species vary greatly in habit and dimensions. D. laxifolium is perhaps the most diminutive pine known; pigmy specimens may be covered by a crown-piece. D. bidwillii is a dwarf, often prostrate, shrub. D. cupressinum is commonly 80 feet high or more, with a trunk 2–4 feet in diameter, and weeping branches. D. colensoi is a small tree with short trunk and heavy round head. D. kirkii is a noble species, 60–80 feet high, with conical head and peculiar aspect from the lower spreading branches having leaves resembling those of a Picea, while the upper fastigiate branches have abbreviated cypress-like foliage.

Several species are of great importance from their economic value. D. cupressinum, the rimu or red pine, yields the greatest portion of the marketable timber produced in the South Island. It is of great value for all inside work, and is largely used for building purposes, but, although of great strength, is not durable when exposed. It is largely used in the manufacture of furniture. D. westlandicum, the Westland or white silver pine, is of great durability, probably owing to the large quantity of oily and resinous matter which it contains. It is exported from Westland to a considerable extent, and fetches a higher price in the Westland markets than any other timber except kauri. D. intermedium, the yellow silver pine, is considered still more durable, and is highly valued on the west coast of the South Island. D. colensoi, the yellow pine or tar-wood of the Otago settlers, is another species of great durability, although of rather small dimensions. D. kirkii, the manoao of the North Island, affords perhaps the most durable timber of all: small trunks the thickness of a man's arm, used as palisades in a Maori pa known to have been constructed ninety years ago, are said to be still perfectly sound and good. This species was sufficiently plentiful on the Great Barrier Island to admit of its conversion a few years ago, and the timber was placed in the Auckland market under the name of Barrier pine; but, owing to the removal of the machinery, the supply has ceased.

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Key to the Species.

A. Leaves of young plants, terete, spreading, passing into the mature imbricating state by gradual transitions. Nuts solitary (except in D. westlandicum), not compressed.


Branches pendulous, mature leaves imbricating all round. D. cupressinum.


Branches erect, mature leaves triangular, 4-fariously imbricating. D. intermedium.


Branches erect, diœcious; nuts 1–3. D. westlandicum.


Branches prostrate, struggling, monœcious. D. laxifolium.

B. Leaves of young plants linear, flat, abruptly changing into the mature state; nuts 1–5, compressed.


Erect, recumbent, or prostrate, leaves of young plants sessile; nuts 1–2. D. bidwillii.


Erect, young leaves shortly petioled; nuts 1–2; mature leaves 4-fariously imbricating. D. colensoi.


Erect, young leaves shortly petioled; nuts 1–5; mature leaves sub-cylindrical. D. kirkii.

1. Dacrydium cupressinum.

Solander in Forst. Plantis. Escul., p. 80: Prodr., p. 92; Don in Lamb. Pin., edit. 1, p. 93, t. 41; Rich., Conif., p. 16, t. 2, f. 3; A. Rich., Fl. Nov. Zel., p. 361; A. Cunn., Prodr. in Ann. Nat. Hist., I., p. 214; Endl., Con., p. 225; Hook. f., Flora of New Zeal., I., p. 233: Handbook of N.Z. Fl., p. 258; Carr., Conif., p. 486; De Candolle, Prodr., XVI., pars 2, p. 494.

Thalamia cupressina, Spreng., Syst. Veg., 3, p. 890.

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A diœcious tree 60–80 feet high or more, trunk 3–5 feet in diameter, bark scaling, branches pendulous, pale green; leaves of young plants terete, lax, ascending, on older branches shorter, trigonous decurrent, imbricating all round, ¼ inch long; on mature branches shorter, subulate, curved, densely imbricating, 1/12 inch long; male catkins not seen; nuts on the tips of curved branchlets, solitary, ovoid, ⅛ inch long, not compressed; involucral cups rarely fleshy.

Hab. Throughout New Zealand, ascending to 2,000 feet.

A handsome tree, affording valuable although not durable timber. Young trees up to 25 feet high, when not too crowded, form objects of exquisite beauty. Their pyramidal or conical habit, and their long slender pendulous pale green branches, present an aspect totally different from that of any other native tree. In old specimens the pyramidal habit has disappeared, the branches are spreading, the pendulous branchlets short, and the leaves more closely imbricated, so that although the aspect is still unique in the New Zealand forest, much of the elegance and grace of the early state is lost.

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This species is most abundant on the west coast of the South Island, where it often forms a large proportion of the forests, but it attains its largest dimensions in the deep forests of the North Island.

It should be remarked that the recurved fertile branchlets are really erect, the branches on which they are borne being pendulous. Occasionally old specimens are found with erect or sub-erect branches drooping at the tips.

This species is the rimu of the Maoris and the red pine of the settlers.

2. Dacrydium intermedium, n. s.

A handsome diœcious tree 40 feet high or more; trunk, 1–2 feet in diameter; wood yellowish-red; leaves of young plants laxly crowded, terete, patent or erecto-patent, ½ inch long, gradually becoming closely imbricated, 4-farious, triangular ovate, obtuse, keeled. Male catkins short, ovoid, terminal. Nuts terminal, erect, solitary, elliptic, with a minute hooked apiculus and faint striæ; not compressed.

Hab. North Island: Hirakimata, Great Barrier Island; Cape Colville Peninsula, and Thames Gold-field to Te Aroha, 1,500–2,500 feet; Tongariro—Grace in Herb. Mus. Col.!

South Island: Dun Mountain, Nelson (collector's name not attached.) Herb. Mus. Col.! West Coast: Greymouth to Okarita (and probably southwards to Martin Bay.)

In the mature state the leaves resemble those of slender forms of D. colensoi, to which Sir Joseph Hooker is inclined to refer it; it is, however, separated from that species by the terete leaves of the young state and the uncompressed nut; the branches are less fastigiate than those of D. bidwillii, and less spreading than those of D. colensoi. The slender branches of young plants are slightly flexuous, and have some resemblance to those of Podocarpus dacrydioides, but are much larger; these are replaced by others similar to those of D. cupressinum, but stouter, which gradually diminish in size and widen into the broadly imbricating appressed state characteristic of the fruiting branches.

The West Coast plant is identified in the absence of fruit; the early leaves are more generally patent than is the case in northern specimens, the mature branches less strict, and the leaves less broadly keeled, differences which are probably due to situation alone; in both, the mature leaves are attached by broad bases. It was chiefly this character which led to its being considered an erect tree-form of D. laxifolium, in my account of the Botany of the Thames Gold Field.*

[Footnote] * Trans. N.Z. Inst., II., p. 95.

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Dacrydium Westlandicum T Kirk.

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Dacrydium Intermedium, n.s.

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This species is the yellow silver pine of Westland, where it is highly valued for its durability. It is occasionally utilized on the Thames Goldfield.

Plate XX. Dacrydium intermedium.


Sterile branch and leaves natural size.


Fertile branchlet enlarged.


Longitudinal section of nut enlarged.

3. Dacrydium westlandicum.

T. Kirk, MS.; Hook. fil., Icones Plantarum, t. 1218.

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A diœcious tree 40–50 feet high, trunk 1.½–2.½ feet in diameter, bark whitish, branches slender. Leaves of seedling plants terete, of early branches sub-terete, or trigonous, or subulate, decurrent, erecto-patent, compressed, ¼–⅓ inch long. Fruiting branchlets very slender, 1/20–1/15 inch in diameter; leaves rigid, broadly triangular, compressed, carinate, slightly imbricate, obtuse. Male catkins terminal, solitary, oblong, 1/15–1/10 inch long. Nuts (immature) solitary, or 1–3, 1/15–1/10 inch long, obtuse, not compressed.

North Island: Whangaroa—Hector!; Great Barrier Island—J. Spring-all and T. Kirk (1871).

South Island: Greymouth to Okarita (in all probability extending northward to the mouth of the Buller and southwards to Martin Bay); not observed further inland than the Ahaura plain.

In the young state this species closely resembles the preceding, but the leaves are slightly trigonous; the minute leaves of the fruiting branches, and the small obtuse nuts, which are usually two in number, distinguish the mature state from all other members of this section. The wood is white, dense, and extremely durable.

My first knowledge of this plant was from dried specimens in the young state received from Dr. Hector in 1869, and collected by him at Whangaroa. In 1871, Mr. Springall and myself collected young plants on one of the high ranges in the interior of the Great Barrier Island, but owing to the approach of night we were unable to search for trees. It was only on visiting the west coast of the South Island in January, 1877, that I was able to identify the young state of the northern plant with the present species, which, although long valued for the durability of its timber, and forming an article of export under the name of Westland pine, or white silver pine, had not come under the observation of botanists.

The early leaves have some resemblance to those of Podocarpus dacrydioides, but the plant is stouter, with longer and flexuous branches.

Plate XVIII. Dacrydium westlandicum, T. Kirk.

— Sterile branchlet.
2. Fertile branchlet, enlarged.
1. " " enlarged.
3. Nucule, enlarged.
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4. Dacrydium laxifolium.

Hook. fil., Lond. Journ. of Bot., IV., p. 143; Icones Plant., 815; Flora Nov. Zel., I., p. 234; Handbook of N.Z. Fl., p. 259; Carr., Conif., p. 487.

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A weak prostrate shrub, with trailing stems. Monœcious; branches few, straggling, 3–15 inches long. Leaves on young plants, linear, curved, spreading, ⅓–⅕ inch long, gradually diminishing in size to 1/12 inch, when they become slightly thickened and obtuse, at length laxly imbricated all round the branches, broadly ovate, keeled, 1/20–1/25 inch long. Male catkins terminal on short branchlets, ⅕–¼ inch long, solitary elliptic, anthers 2. Female flowers solitary, terminal; nut conical, with a minute hooked apiculus. Involucral cup usually dry, sometimes dilated, fleshy, red.

α. dcbilis.—Branches few, straggling; leaves rarely imbricating.

β. compacta.—Branches numerous, short, strict; leaves imbricating; plant forming a compact mass.

North Island: α. Ruahine Range—Colenso; Tongariro—Bidwill! Colenso, Hector!

South Island: α. Nelson mountains—Bidwill; Black Hills, Canterbury, 4,000 feet—Sinclair and Haast!; high ground between Kumara and Marsden, Westland—T. Kirk; Upper Waimakariri and Arthur's Pass, 2,000–3,000 feet—J. D. Enys and T.K.; mountains above Lake Harris—T.K.; Otago—Hector and Buchanan. β. Otago—J. Buchanan, Herb. Mus. Col.!; mountains above Lake Harris—T.K.

The most diminutive pine known; fruiting specimens are sometimes only two inches high, usually from six inches to ten. South Island specimens are usually more or less glaucous, and rather more robust than those from Tongariro, collected by Dr. Hector. The latter moreover are destitute of imbricated leaves. In southern specimens both forms of leaf may be found on the same branch, and cases of reversion are not uncommon. When the involucral cup is fleshy, the fruit bears a great resemblance to that of Podocarpus dacrydioides.

At first sight the var. β. compacta appears a totally different plant, but is connected with the type by intermediate forms.

In his sketch of the botany of Otago, Mr. Buchanan remarks:—“This (D. laxifolium) is a very doubtful species, being difficult to distinguish from D. colensoi,”—an opinion in which I cannot concur. To me it appears a most distinct plant, easily recognized in all stages. The difficulty experienced by Mr. Buchanan and others has doubtless arisen from mixing small specimens of D. bidwillii with this species.

5. Dacrydium bidwillii, n.s.

Hook. fil., in litt.

A diœcious shrub, erect, spreading, or prostrate. Leaves on young plants linear, obtuse, crowded, sessile, flat, ascending, ¼–⅓ inch long; on

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fruiting branches 4—farious, imbricated, coriaceous, triangular, keeled, obtuse. Male catkins slender, terminal solitary, anthers two, connective, obtuse. Nuts solitary or in twos, striate, compressed, keeled, obtuse; involucral cup sometimes resinous.

α. erecta.—Erect, main branches pyramidal or conical; linear flat leaves obscurely costate, fruiting branchlets very slender; male catkins produced in profusion.

β. reclinata.—Prostrate or reclinate, linear leaves with evident costa; fruiting branches stouter.

North Island: I have no certain knowledge of the occurrence of either form in this island, although there is reason to believe that var. α. occurs at Tongariro, and is probably not uncommon on the Ruahine and other mountains.

South Island: α. Nelson—Bidwill in Herb. Hook! Roto Iti 2,000 feet, Square Town—T.K.; Canterbury—Sinclair and Haast; between Greymouth and Okarita, Westland—T.K.; Dusky Bay, Otago—Hector in Herb. Hook! β. Dun Mountain, Nelson—Herb. Mus. Col. (but without collector's name); flats by the Thomas River, Upper Waimakiriri, Bealey Gorge, and Lake Misery, 2,000–3,000 feet—J. D. Enys and T. Kirk; West Coast of Otago—Hector.

This species is distinguished from its allies by its dwarf stature and sessile linear leaves, which are attached by broad bases. It varies considerably in habit and in the size of the quadrifarious leaves.

In var. α, the linear flat leaves, so far as my observations extend, are never found on plants more than six inches high; when dry, they are of a pale brown colour; those of var. β. of a reddish-black.

A number of remarkable specimens of var. β. occur on flats by the Thomas river, where they form hemispherical clumps 2–5 feet high and 10–20 feet in diameter; there are also densely crowded rings of young plants with open centres of similar diameter. In the oldest specimens the trunk is found to branch at the surface of the ground, the main branches being prostrate, from 5–10 feet in length and 5–6 inches in diameter, rooting at their extremities. When the trunk is injured, or when it decays, the branches gradually die away, leaving their rooted tips to form a ring of young plants, but usually erect secondary branches are given off along their entire length, and a compact clump is formed. In this form the linear leaves are seldom seen except on seedlings, rarely small branches bearing leaves of the early type are given off from bare places in the main arms. Plants of similar habit were observed in the Waimakariri, but not nearly so well developed, owing to the crowded vegetation by which they were surrounded. The ordinary form of this variety has reclinate or spreading branches.

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At present the distribution of this species is imperfectly known from its having been confused with D. colensoi. A resinous plant, which must probably be referred here, is said to be plentiful in the Massacre Bay district.

6. Dacrydium colensoi.

Hook., Icon. Plant., t. 548; Hook. fil., Fl. Nov. Zel., I., p. 234: Handbook N.Z. Fl., p. 952; Endl., Conif., p. 226; De Cand., Prodr., 16, pars 2, p. 495.

Podocarpus (?) biformis, Hook., Icon. Plant., t. 544.

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A diœcious tree 20–40 feet high, bark whitish, trunk 1–2 feet in diameter; leaves on early branches ½-inch long, linear flat, obtuse, costate, spreading; on upper branches quadrifariously imbricated, short, triangular, or ovate oblong, stoutly keeled, obtuse, 1/20–1/12 inch long. “Male catkins terminal, solitary sessile; anthers 4–6; connective obtuse; nut small on a horizontal resinous cup-shaped disk.”

North Island: Tongariro and Ruahine Ranges—Colenso.

South Island: Nelson mountains, 5,000–6,000 feet (?)—Bidwill; Canterbury, 2,000–4,000 feet—Haast; Arthur's Pass, 3,000 feet—T.K.; Otago, 3,000 feet—Hector and Buchanan; descends to below 1,000 feet near Dunedin—T.K.

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A round-headed tree with spreading ascending branches, varying greatly in the size of the mature leaves and thickness of the ultimate branchlets, which range from 1/20–1/10 inch in diameter; in the more robust forms detached specimens may easily be mistaken for Veronica tetragona or V. lycopodioides. It differs from the preceding species in the arrangement of the branchlets, which are crowded at the ends of the branches and resemble an obtuse-topped kind of corymb. Not having had the good fortune to collect specimens in flower or fruit, I am unable to say if the nut is invariably solitary but suspect that it is not. From all forms of D. bid-willii it is distinguished by the larger petioled linear leaves, as well as the greater size and peculiar habit just described. According to Bidwill it occurs at the altitude of 6,000 feet on the Nelson Mountains, but I fear the height is over-estimated by 2,000 feet.

This species is the yellow pine or tar-wood of the Otago settlers; the wood is yellowish, dense, and durable, but can only be obtained in short lengths.

7. Dacdrydium kirkii.

F. Muell. in De Cand. Prodr., vol. XVI., pars 2, p. 495; Hook. f., Icon. Plant., t. 1,219.

A diœcious tree, 40–80 feet high, 2–4 feet in diameter. Leaves of sterile branches 1–1½ inch long, ½ inch wide, linear, flat, sub-acute, shortly petioled, erecto-patent, coriaceous, shining, crowded or scattered, costa and veins distinct; margins slightly cartilaginous. Leaves of fertile branches

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Dacrydium Kirkii, Hook f.

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sub-cylindrical, closely imbricated, broadly rhomboidal, carinate, obtuse, with a membranous margin on the upper edge. Male catkins broadly ovate, ½ inch long, terminal, solitary. Female terminal, involucral scales apiculate. Nuts 2–5 compressed, oval, obtuse, furrowed.

North Island: Whangaroa—Hector, T. K.; Cape Brett—Colenso; Whangarei—R. Mair!; Hokianga, Upper Wairoa, and Great Barrier Island—T. Kirk; Titirangi—T. F. Cheeseman.

A noble species, nearest to D. colensoi, but differing in the pyramidal or conical habit, in the large size of the lower leaves, the sub-cylindrical branches and aggregated nuts. The lower branches, sometimes to the height of 40 feet, are clothed with large linear leaves, giving the tree the appearance of a Picea, which is increased by its habit of growth. The lower branches are spreading, the upper fastigiate, and repeatedly dichotomously branched, with the branchlets forming semi-flabellate masses at the extremities. As in D. bidwillii and D. colensoi, the change from the spreading linear leaf state to the mature imbricated condition is most abrupt; in some specimens the tips of the lower branches exhibit appressed imbricated leaves, while the portions nearest the trunk are covered with large linear leaves, the intermixture of dimorphic foliage without intermediate forms presenting a singular and attractive appearance. The nuts are produced in greater abundance than those of any other New Zealand species, and often have their receptacles lined with a singular orange-coloured alveola. The nuts destitute of this lining are usually of less size.

The petioles of the flat linear leaves have a curious half twist.

This species is the manoao of the northern natives; its timber is of a reddish colour and of extreme durability.

I first collected this handsome species on the Great Barrier Island in 1867, and subsequently, under Dr. Hector's instruction, examined the Whangaroa habitat where he had previously discovered it. In papers on Northern Plants, and on the Botany of the Great Barrier Island, published in the first volume of “Transactions of the N. Z. Institute,”* I expressed a decided opinion as to its specific distinctness, but at that time I had not seen D. colensoi, and in deference to the opinion of Dr. Hector and Mr. Buchanan, who considered it a lowland form of that species, I refrained from giving a formal description. It was, however, published by the late Professor Parlatore the following year, under its present name in De Candolle's “Prodromus.” It is, perhaps, the most strongly marked of all the New Zealand species.

Plate XIX. Dacrydium kirkii.

Sterile branch and leaves.


Fertile branch enlarged.


Female catkin enlarged.


Nuts enlarged.

[Footnote] * Vol. I., pp. 141, 148.