Scientific name: Podocarpus totara
Other names: Lowland totara
- native to the Wellington Region
Suits: damp, dry, partial shade, sunny, shelter, exposure, coastal forest garden, coastal and dune garden
A grand and attractive tree, totara used to be one of the dominant native pine species on Miramar in the old days. A medium sized tree, growing up to 20 to 25 metre tall with a beautiful reddish-grey or golden bark, being thick, corky, furrowed and stringy. Grows very slowly, but noted for its longevity, also making it a useful species for hedging. Small sharp, dull green needle-like leaves, that are stiff and leathery, up to 2 cm long. Like all podcarps, Totara trees have cones – male and female cones grow on separate trees. In autumn the female tree produces fleshy berry-like juicy scales or fruit, bright red when mature. Fruits take about a year to ripen, but may be found throughout the year, however most often between April and May. The fruit is readily eaten many native birds, including kereru, tui, and kakariki.
Along with other native conifers in Wellington, in particular miro and rimu, it usually forms the scattered, majestic emergent storey stretching above the dense canopy of broadleaf trees. Once widspread, but now gone throughout most of its former range.
With its ability to withstand wind and tolerate trimming, Totara is very suitable for shelter belts and wind breaks. Totara is the most sacred tree in traditional Māori lore.The distinctive red, somewhat oily wood was the timber of preference for use for constructing waka, and carvings. European settlers also developed a regard for the totara as a material, its durability, and the ease by which it could be fashioned into fence posts and street poles.
Provides for birds
Provides for lizards
- Complexity and height
Read more about gardening for lizards.