Afrocarpus gracilior
Common Name: African fern pine 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Podocarpaceae
Native Range: Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Cones insignificant
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Hedge
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Clay Soil


Best grown in evenly moist, deep, humusy, slightly acidic, well-draining soils in full sun to part shade. Adaptable to a wide range of soil types, including clayey and sandy soils. Intolerant of drought. Water regularly to maintain even moisture. Hardy in Zones 9-11. Prefers afternoon shade in climates with hot summers. Avoid southern exposures or an area with reflected light. Takes well to pruning and shearing.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Afrocarpus gracilior, commonly called African fern pine or East African yellowwood, is a large, coniferous, evergreen tree native to montane rainforests of eastern Africa. This fast, vigorous grower can add between 1-3' of new growth per year in the right conditions. Fully mature trees can reach up to 130' tall with a 110' spread. Young trees are generally upright and take on a broader canopy shape with age. The foliage is narrowly lanceolate in shape, reaching up to 3" long and 0.2" wide and gives the plant a fine texture. The cones appear in spring but are insignificant. The round seeds (up to 1" in diameter) are surrounded by an fleshy coating that ripens from green to orange. This plant has various uses in traditional medicine. It is also used as a timber tree and is cultivated as an ornamental.

Synonymous with Podocarpus gracili.

The genus name Afrocarpus originated from the genus Podocarpus. The altered prefix better reflects the native habitat of this genus.

The specific epithet gracilior means "more slender" or "more graceful", possibly in reference to the foliage of this species compared to other members of the genus.


Susceptible to spider mites. Otherwise no major pest or disease problems.


Suitable for use as a hedge or screen if kept well pruned. Will become a large tree if left to its own devices. The fruit and leaves can be a potential litter problem if placed near a sidewalk, pool, or other highly trafficked area.