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Podocarpus gracilior
Podocarpus gracilior

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Zones 8, 9, 13-25, 27, H1, H2
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Podocarpus gracilior

Fern Pine
Evergreen, Trees


Podocarpus are versatile plants grown for their good-looking foliage and interesting form. They are adaptable to many climates and have many garden uses. Make good screens and background plants. Foliage generally resembles that of related yews (Taxus), but leaves of the better-known species are longer, broader, and lighter in color. If a male plant is growing nearby, female plants bear fruit after many years, producing small, fleshy fruits rather than cones. These grow well (if slowly) in most soils, but may develop chlorosis where soil is alkaline or heavy and damp. Some botanists divide the plants into three genera (Afrocarpus, Nageia, Podocarpus).

Podocarpus gracilior

From eastern Africa. Grows to 20–60 ft. tall and 10–20 ft. wide. Among the cleanest, most pest-free trees for street, lawn, patio, garden; good as big shrubs, as hedges, or in containers.

Method of propagation determines growth habit. If grown from seed, plants are upright even when young (and stay that way); these plants are usually sold as P. gracilior. In youth, they have branches set somewhat sparsely with glossy dark green leaves 2–4 in. long and 1/2 in. wide. With age, they produce 1–2-in., soft grayish green to bluish green leaves that are more closely spaced on branches. Stake seedling plants until a strong trunk develops. If grown from cuttings or grafts of a mature tree, plants have the smaller, more closely set leaves just described, but they have very limber branches and are often reluctant to make strong vertical growth. These more willowy plants, suitable for espalier, hanging pots, or growing as vines along fences, are often sold as P. elongatus. Given staking and tying, P. elongatus types eventually become upright trees, though their foliage mass persists in drooping for some time.

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