Podocarpus macrophyllus
Common Name: yew plum pine
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Podocarpaceae
Native Range: Southern China, Japan
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 20.00 to 40.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-9 where it is best grown in rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of shade. Intolerant of wet soils. May develop chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves) in alkaline soils. In the St. Louis area, it may not be grown in the ground, but it can be grown as a houseplant or container plant that may be kept outside during the frost-free growing season, but brought indoors in fall for overwintering. Container plants should be protected from full sun when taken outdoors.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Podocarpus macrophyllus, commonly called Buddhist pine, is native to mountainous areas of China and Japan. It is an evergreen conifer that typically grows as a narrow-conical tree to 50’ tall or sometimes as a large shrub. In cultivation in warm winter areas of the U. S., it usually grows much shorter (to 20-40’). This is a slow-growing conifer that features leathery, soft-textured, shiny dark green, yew-like needles (to 4” long) arranged in dense spirals. Foliage is pleasantly fragrant when bruised. Ellipsoidal fruits (to 1.5” long) are fleshy, olive-green, berry-like cones that ripen in the second year to purple. Fruits may be eaten out of hand or used in pies and cakes. Other common names include Japanese yew, yew pine, southern yew, yew podocarpus and podocarpus. P. macrophyllus var. maki is a slower-growing version of the species (plants typically attain a height of no more than 6-8’ in 10 years) with shorter needles (to 3” long) and a narrow, dense, upright habit. Var. maki makes an excellent houseplant that can easily be kept in the 4-5’ tall range through regular pruning.

Genus name comes from the Greek words pous or podos meaning a foot and karpos meaning a fruit as the fruit is born on a fleshy stalk.

Specific epithet means large-leaved.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Scale may appear on indoor plants.

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, grow as large shrub or screen. Also effective as a specimen or lawn tree. Clip as a hedge. Foundations. Where not winter hardy, it may be grown in containers that must be overwintered in greenhouses or brightly lit corners of the home. Tolerance of low light conditions enables use as a house plant. Plants are sometimes seen growing in low light situations or under sky lights in shopping malls.