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No. 13: Podocarpus elata,


The Brown or She Pine


(Natural Order CONIFERÆ.)

Botanical description

— Genus, Podocarpus, L' Hér.

Flowers. — Dioecious or rarely monoecious,

Male amenta. — Cylindrical.

Stamens. — Numerous, slightly contracted at the base, the scale-like apices closely imbricate; anther cells two.

Female amenta. — Of two to four bracts or scales, more or less succulent, and united with the rhachis in an oblong receptacle, unequally two or four toothed at the apex.

Ovules. — One or two, exserted, reversed, and adnate to an erect stipe from within the larger teeth or bracts of the receptacle.

Seeds. — Drupaceous, the nucleus enclosed in a double integument, the outer one succulent, the inner one long.

Embryo. — With two short cotyledons and an inferior radicle.

Trees or shrubs.

Leaves. — Alternate or rarely opposite, usually distichous and flat, with a prominent midrib.

Buds — Scaly.

Amenta. — Axillary or terminal, solitary or several together, sessile or shortly racemose.

Botanical description

— Species, P. elata, R.Br.; Mirb. in Mem. Mus. Par. XIII, 75.

A tree of 50 to 100 feet.

Leaves. — 0blong linear or broadly linear-lanceolate, very variable in size, on some specimens with young flowers 1 1/2 to 2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide and quite straight; in the ordinary form 3 to 6 inches long and 4 to 6 lines broad, straight or slightly falcate, acute or rather obtuse, the midrib prominent, the petiole very short.

Male amenta. — Clustered two or three together, sessile, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, surrounded by several short scales or bracts.

Female peduncles. — Two to 3 lines long, solitary in the axils of the lower leaves or more frequently of small bracts at the base of the year's branches.

Fruiting receptacle. — Oblong, 4 to 6 lines long, with usually only one seed, ovoid or globular; 4 to 6 lines diameter. (B. Fl. vi, 247)

Botanical Name

Podocarpus, from two Greek words pous, podos, a foot, and karpos, a fruit, referring to the thick, fleshy fruit-stalk of these plants elata, Latin, lofty, referring to the tallness of the tree.

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Vernacular Names

— In a general way the name Pine is given to that group of plants known to botanists as Conifers. The exceptions are rare, but a few brush trees in Australia go by that name. Cur tree is known as "Pine," "She Pine," and "Brown Pine," and, to a less extent, "White Pine," but the last designation had better be left for Araucaria Cunninghamii, the "Hoop Pine." Called also "Plum Pine" and "Berry Pine," in allusion to the fruits; and also "Brush Pine," because of the situation in which it grows. It is also known as "Native Deal."

Aboriginal Names

— "Dyrren-dyrren," of the aborigines of Illlawarra, New South Wales, and "Goon-gum," of those of northern New South Wales; "Kidney Wallum," of some of Queensland. "Mooloolah" is another Queensland aboriginal name, according to the Hon. W. Pettigrew; and it is the "Daalgaal" of the aborigines of the Barron River, according to Mr. Cowley.


— P. ensifolia, R.Br.; P. falcata, A. Cunn.; Nageia elata, F.v.M. ; Nageia elata in Muell. Cens., p. 109.


— The fruits are called by Sydney boys "plums," "damsons," or "cherries." The fruit., which ripens in autumn, consists of an astringent, aromatic, resinous drupe, egg-shaped, and something like a sloe, sitting upon a fleshy substance of a purplish or damson colour, which is the "damson." I have measured them up to 15/16 inch long (they are depressed) and 7/8 inch in diameter, and they are probably larger. The "sloe" cannot be eaten, but aborigines and small boys are fond of the "damsons," which have no stones, and consist of a pleasant but rather insipid mucilaginous substance, the thin skin being slightly astringent. They rank among the best of the indigenous fruits. When ripe they stain the mouth and fingers like black cherries do.


— The timber is used for miscellaneous purposes, like "Colonial Pine" (Araucaria Cunninghamii), but its most valuable property is its resistance to white ants and Teredo. Round piles of this timber with the bark on are all but proof against the attacks of Teredo (cobra) even in brackish water; in fact, some saw-millers say that its power of resistance to marine borers is absolute, but I doubt this, although it is rarely touched. It used to be employed in the Port Macquarie district for staves for tallow casks, and was then called "Stave-wood." In the Gloucester district it has the reputation of shrinking a good deal and being knotty. Locally, it is used for flooring and ceiling boards and dray bottoms.

Another report says:— "Timber light and durable when used for any inside work; it takes a fine polish." We know but little of the uses of this timber, except for piles. Mr. F. M. Bailey says that it is excellent for the spars and masts of vessels.

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The genus Podocarpus is far more developed in New Zealand than it is in Australia, and the uses and properties of the better known New Zealand timber trees will suggest uses and properties probably possessed, in a greater or less degree, by their Australian congeners. The Totara stands in the very first rank of New Zealand trees; it is one of the best timbers in the world to withstand marine borers; in fact, some comparative tests between this timber and the Western Australian Jarrah, made a few years ago by the Engineer to the Auckland Harbour Board, tend to show that Totara possesses greater resistant power than Jarrah. Other Podocarpus timbers of note from the sister Colony are the Matai (P. spicata) which is practically imperishable, the Miro or Black Pine (P. ferruginea), all the above being grand timbers. There is still another New Zealand Podocarpus (P. dacrydioides), the White Pine or Kahikatea, which by no means bears so good a name for durability as those already mentioned. It is, however, largely used in the manufacture of butter-boxes, for which it is very suitable.

The genus to which our Brown Pine belongs is even more developed in Asia (chiefly in the tropics) than it is in Australasia. A few species are found in tropical America and in the West Indies, in mountainous districts. It also follows the Andes south into Chili and Peru for a considerable distance. It is also found in South Africa.

Two species of Podocarpus are found in the warmer parts of Japan, and are frequently planted in the vicinity of temples. Although not largely used for timber, being chiefly utilised for ornamental purposes, e.g., green hedges and specimen trees, their timber is well-known, and it is considered to be more durable in water than in the air, confirming Australasian experience of allied timber trees.

A Burmese species yields timber which is held in high regard by the natives, and they call it by a name which signifies the Prince of Wood and of trees. It is used by carpenters for various purposes, and the natives of Burma have a superstition that the beams of balances should be made of it. A writer states that it is used to avert evil by driving a peg of it into a house post or boat. Apart from the sentimental and superstitious considerations which influence the use of this timber, there is no doubt that it is really valuable, and a distinguished Indian botanist has suggested that it may prove a valuable substitute for box.


— While this is a very common tree with us, I have found no resin upon it; but should be looked for for scientific reasons. The following references are interesting:— Podocarpus ferruginea yields a dark red-coloured gum resin. (G. Bennett, Wanderings of a Naturalist, p. 415.)

See also "Podocarpic Acid (Watts Dict., VII [2], 1657.)

Amongst the natural products collected by Dr. T. E. de Vrij, during his stay in the Isle of Java, Was crystalline resin produced from Podocarpus cupressina or P. imbricata, a tree common in the forests of Java, and known locally by its Malay name of Djamoudjou. This resin, when treated with alcohol,

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yields a white crystalline acid substance, which has been called Podocarpic acid. The last number of the Journal für praktische Chimie contains a long paper by Herr A. C. Oudeman, junr., in which he describes the results of his studies of this acid, and of several of its salts and derivatives. (Jour. Soc. Arts, XXII, 864.)


— It grows to a height of 90 or 100 feet, with a diameter of 2 or 3 feet.


— It extends from the Illawarra to Northern Queensland, being confined to the coast districts. It usually occurs in brushes or good soil, and often on the banks of water-courses.

Following are specimen reports of its occurrence in a few localities:—"In New South Wales it is fairly plentiful in the Tweed district." "There is abundance of Brown Pine on the north shore of Port Macquarie, say 25 to 30 feet high, and from 15 to 18 inches in diameter." On the Gloucester River I observed some fine trees of Podocarpus elata, which I was informed is very common on this and other rivers and creeks in the district.


Plate 14: White of She Pine (Podocarpus elata, R.Br.) Lithograph by M. Flockton

  • A. Branch with male (staminiferous) flowers.
  • B. Amentum, partly magnified, showing the scales at the base.
  • C. Staminiferous flower shedding pollen.
  • D. Pistilliferous (female) flower.
  • E. Branch with ripe fruits, showing drupaceous seed and the fleshy receptacle.
  • F. Seed.
  • G. Vertical section of seed.
  • H. Horizontal section of seed.

Notes Issue No. 13

Supplementary Material Added at the End of Volume 2

No. 13. Part IV.

Podocarpus elata, R.Br.


Aboriginal names. — See vol. i, P. 87.

The name of the fruit at Cape Grafton is "Dalgal." (North Queensland Ethnography, Bulletin No. 3, Dr. W. E. Roth), evidently another spelling of the Barron River name.

Habitat. — See vol. i, p. 89.

Leaves attributed to this species in the National Herbarium, Sydney (Transit of Venus Expedition, 1874, Northern Queensland), are over 10 inches long and an inch wide. They are without flower or fruit.

Supplementary Material Added to Volume 3

No. 13. Part IV. Podocarpus elata, R.Br. THE BROWN 0R SHE-PINE. (Family CONIFERAE.)

Timber. — See vol. i, p. 87.

Brown Pine, said to be an excellent timber for flooring boards and house-building.- (District Forester Wilshire, Grafton.)

A tall tree of medium size, with irregularly-shaped trunk; very thin, dark-coloured, slightly furrowed bark, and narrow dark-green leaves. Wood light-brown colour, light, soft, and easy to work.

Used for piles and for sheathing vessels; resists to a great extent attacks of the teredo. Is best suited for purposes under water.- (Cat. Forestry Mus., Queensland, 1904.)

Habitat. — See vol. i, p. 89 ; vol. ii, P. 193.

Trees in the islands of the Clarence River, small, with clean barrels about 30 — 40 feet. — (District Forester Wilshire.)

Not plentiful; occasional trees are found on Beech Mountain, and in some of the coastal scrubs in Southern Queensland. — (Cat. Forestry Mus., Queensland, 1904.)

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