Podocarpus elatus (PODOCARPACEAE); Plum pine, brown pine

Podocarpus elatus
Podocarpus elatus - trunk - Bruce Noble 2002
A fairly large tree that may reach a height of 40m and over 90cm in diameter, this is one of only a few gymnosperms ocurring in Queensland and NSW rainforests. Found in warmer communities including littoral, dry, riverine and subtropical rainforest types as far south as Jervis Bay in NSW.

The trunk is often spirally flanged or fluted, and irregularly fissured or channelled, while the smooth, brown branchlets are generally green towards the tips.

Leaves are alternate, simple and entire, and quite variable in dimensions up to a length of about 18cm and width often less than 10mm but sometimes up to about 18mm. Tipped with a short, sharp point, they are oblong-linear to linear-lanceolate in shape, somewhat leathery and glossy, smooth and dark green above and paler below. Leaf stalks vary from barely discernible to about 3mm long. Venation more/less invisible except for the midrib, which is also often more prominent above.

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Podocarpus elatus
Podocarpus elatus - fruit - David Somerville 2002
Male cones to about 3cm long, narrowly cylindrical, are borne in more/less stalkless clusters in leaf axils, while female cones are stalked and solitary, yielding an enlarged and fleshy, glaucous receptacle to about 2cm, becoming blue-black when ripe, with a firm, almost globose seed to about 12mm seated on top. The receptacle is edible and high in Vitamin C, though with a mucilaginous texture and somewhat resinous flavour.

Cones appear around Oct.-Nov., while the receptacle is ripe around March-July.

The 'fruit' is eaten my a number of birds, including the green catbird and wompoo pigeon.

The timber is highly regarded for various uses, being tough and resistant to insect attack yet with a fine silky grain.

Propagation is mostly by seed but cuttings of firm, young growth can also be successful, though these may be slow to form roots.