TANEKAHA, CELERY-TOPPED PINE
(Phyllocladus trichomanoides). This medium-sized (60–70 ft high) forest tree gets its common name from the fan-shaped, flattened branchlets, or phylloclades.
These take the place of leaves which are borne on other branchlets arising in whorls. It is found in lowland forest from Northland to below the centre of the North Island and in the northern part of Nelson and Marlborough in the South Island. It is most abundant throughout the northern forest, and there it regenerates particularly well.
The branches on the lower part of the trunk fall off without leaving knots; consequently the bole is smooth and the timber in it clean. The phylloclades are 1–2 in. long and the true leaves are reduced to scales on the side of them. The male flowers are in the form of catkins produced on the tips of branchlets; the female flowers, which later form nuts, are on the side of the phylloclades.
The timber is straight-grained, of considerable strength, white and dense for a conifer. It is sought after for special purposes when available on the market. The bark is rich in tannin, and the Maoris extracted a red dye from it.
Phyllocladus is a small genus but contains species found in Tasmania, New Guinea, Borneo, and the Philippines. In New Zealand there are three species. As well as tanekaha there are Phyllocladus glaucus, toatoa, a small northern tree extending to about Taupo, and P. alpinus, mountain toatoa, a plentiful shrub or small tree in the subalpine belt of North and South Islands. In West Taupo the three species meet, and dense clumps of hybrids can occasionally be found.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.