Key to New Zealand Gymnosperms

Dichotomous keys

Each numbered step offers 2 descriptive choices. By carefully observing the plant you wish to identify select the best choice from the 2 descriptions given and proceed to whichever step is indicated until the species name is found. The species name includes a description of the plant and its distribution.

Hints: Have a piece of the plant in front of you. A branch with the fruit is ideal. A hand lens will also be helpful. If you think you know the name of the plant try working backwards through the key, checking the descriptions along the way.

 

Key toNew Zealand Gymnosperms

No true flowers, leaves linear or scale like, mostly trees. Cone bearing plants. Leaves often linear or scale-like.

 

1.          Leaves opposite or acyclic, usually scale like    2

            Stout tree. Leaves flat, 5-10 cm, sessile, coriaceous, alternate, fascicled or opposite, lanceolate on young trees, oblong with an acute apex on older trees, male cones solitary and cylindrical, female cones solitary and globose Te Paki south to Latitude 38.……Agathis australis  Kauri

           

 

 

2.         Leaves opposite, small and appressed in adults, scale like, fruit a cone, bark stringy……………………………………………………………………………………………………..3

Leaves spirally arranged, linear or imbricate, fruit an aril or a nut seated in a cupule……………………………………………………………………………………………………..4

 

 

3.         Tree reaching 35m. Branchlets in two rows, compressed, Leaves appressed, rhombic in shape. Cone ovoid, 1-1.5cm long; scales 4, each with a single spine. Te Paki south to NW Nelson.……………………………………………….. kawaka NZ cedar.

            Tree reaching 16m. Branchlets on young trees narrow, leaves flattened, 3mm.; branchlets on mature trees tetragonous, Leaves 2mm. long, narrow, triangular, appressed, acute apex. Cone 6-8mm long with projecting carpedia and a curved dorsal mucro. Montane forests from latitude 36.5 south.……………………………Libocedrus bidwillii Pahautea mountain cedar

 

 

4.         Leaves linear and flat, fruit with a fleshy or dry aril, trees dioecious……………………..5

Branchlets often whorled and expanded into flabellate leaf like coriaceous lobed cladodes, fruit a compressed nut seated in a cup shaped woody aril 18

 

 

 

5.         Leaves linear, scattered or in 2 rows. Fruit fleshy or with an aril  6

Stout tree to 50m. Base of trunk flared or buttressed. Leaves of two kinds, juvenile scattered, 4-6mm, falcate, decurrent; adults 2-3mm imbricate, appressed with a keel. Fruit an ovoid black nut 4mm long on red aril. Found throughout NZ………Dacrycarpus dacrydioides Kahikatea, white pine

 

 

6.         Leaves linear and falcate, 1-3 cm long, in 2 rows, bark black or nearly so, hammer marked, fruit oblong- globose, fleshy………………………………………………………………….7

Leaves spreading or imbricate. Fruit a swollen aril holding a nut. ……………………….8

 

 

7.         Tree to 25m. bark almost black, leaves 1.3-2cm., Fruit oblong, 2 cm long, reddish purple  Found throughout NZ …………………………………….Prumnopitys ferruginea miro, brown pine

            Tree to 30m. bark bluish black, juvenile plants with long flexuous branches, adult leaves 1.5- 2cm, slightly falcate, glaucous below, fruit globose black. Found throughout NZ……………………………………………………………Prumnopitys taxifolia matai, black pine

 

  

 8.        Leaves with no juvenile form, linear, flat or scale like, fruit usually with an enlarged fleshy aril   9

            Leaves with a juvenile form, fruit fleshy or dry aril ……………………………………….....10

 

 

9.         Leaves 2.5 cm or less…………………………………………………………………………..11

            Leaves greater than 2.5 cm. pungent.  Bark reddish, brown,thin and flaky. Leaf bud wider than the branchlet. Tree to 25m.  Fruit an ovoid nut with short broad beak, peduncle red. North south and Stewart island..……………………………Podocarpus cunninghamii   Halls totara  

 

              

 

10.               Prostrate shrub 1-2m leaves coriaceous 1.5cm. Fruit an ovoid nut with short beak on red peduncle. Alpine scrub. Coromandel to Stewart Island.……  Podocarpus nivalis 

            Tree or shrub, juvenile and adult leaves different on young plants linear or awl shaped, on older plants scale like and imbricate………………………………………………………………..12

 

 

 

11.        Tree to 30m. with thick flaky furrowed bark Leaves linear, spreading and pungent 2.5cm. fruit an ovoid nut on enlarged red peduncle. Nort Cape to Otago.…………Podocarpus totara totara

            Shrub or small tree to 10m.Leaves 2.5cm, coriaceous, acuminate and pungent. Fruit an ovoid nut on red peduncle. Marlborough, Nelson, Westland. ………Podocarpus acutifolius Westland totara

 

 

12.        Tree 13

            Shrub 17

 

 

13.        Juvenile leaves linear and flat, nuts striate………………………………………………......14

            Juvenile leaves terete, nuts smooth…………………………………………………………..15

 

 

14         Bark light brown-grey, juvenile leaves 2.5-4cm. long subpetiolate, adult scale like, imbricate, branchlets terete, aril orange…………………………………..............Halocarpus kirkii

            Bark grey to reddish brown, juvenile leaves 5-20mm long, subpetiolate, adult scale like imbricate, branchlets tetragonous, aril white……………………………………Halocarpus biformis

 

 

15.        Mature leaves sharp 2.5-3mm, awl shaped, branchlets weeping, Juvenile leaves 4-6 mm needle like, ascending, arranged spirally, nut 3mm. long  dry or red aril. Found throughout NZ. …………Dacrydium cupressinum rimu red pine

            Mature leaves blunt, juvenile leaves terete. May show reversion shoots. …………….16

 

 

16.        Tree to 12m.bark grey. Juvebile leaves 1cm. spreading, terete, Mature leaves blunt 2.5mm long, branchlets trimerous, nut smooth 4mm long, apiculate,  on sometimes swollen aril Montane forest south and stewart island ……………………….Lepidothamnus  intermedium Yellow silver pine

            Tree to 12m.bark scaling off in large flakes. Juvenile leaves 1.3 mm, terete. Mature leaves blunt  2.5mm long closely appressed, Branchlets slender Nut smooth 2.5mm long apiculate on whitish aril. Kaitaia to south westland ………………………………….. Monoao colensoi Silver pine

 

 

17.        Shrub to 4m. Juvenile leaves linear 5-10mm long sessile, mature leaves scale like, imbricate, Nuts 3mm long striate, aril white, Sub alpine scrub, Coromandel to Stewart island. …………………………………………………………………………….Halocarpus  bidwilli Bog pine

            Prostrate shrub with branchlets 1m or more in length. Juvenile leaves, narrow, linear,3-5mm. Matyre leaves scale like, imbricate 1.5mm. long, Nut smooth on crimson aril. Tongararo to Stewart island, boggy ground. ……………………………Lepidothamnus laxifolium Pygmy pine

 

 

18.        Cladodes pinnately arrange  19

Cladodes not pinnately arranged, shrub or small tree to 8m. Cladodes 1.5- 4 cm. long, rhomboid, lobed nut 4 mm. long. Found from volcanic plateau south in subalpine to low alpine areas…………………………………………………Phyllocladus alpinus mountain toatoa

 

 

19.        Cladodes 2-6mm. long. Branchlets 10-30 cm long. Cladodes mainly rhomboid, coarsely lobed, glaucous when young.  Nuts 4 mm. From Mangonui to Lake Waikaremoana on boggy or impoverished soils.……………………………………Phyllocladus toatoa  toatoa                                                                                         

Cladodes 1.5-2.5 cm. long , branchlets whorled, cladodes cuneate to rhomboid, nut 3mm long. Found from Te Paki to Kahurangi…………….Phyllocladus trichomanoides tanekaha

                 top_logo      

 

If you wish to learn more about native plants try one of these natural history books from fishpond

Bookstore