Where does it grow?

The Totara is found in forests in both the North and South Islands, although it is most common in the northern half of the North Island. In mountain areas above 600 metres, Totara is replaced by the closely related Thin Barked Totara. The Totara is a particularly hardy tree, and will grow in almost any soil and situation. It is tolerant of both wet and dry conditions, and can withstand windy sites. Totara is a common sight in paddocks in Northland, where it survives because stock don’t like to eat the prickly leaves.


The Latin name is Podocarpus totara. Thus, this is another species of the native trees that is a podocarp. Remember, podocarps are a type of conifer tree that reproduces with a female cone and then produces a seed at the tip of a fleshy fruit.

The leaves are tiny (1 – 3 mm long by 3 – 4 mm wide), needle like, and sharp to the touch. Common totara grows up to 30 meters tall with a trunk diameter of up to 2 metres or more. It can be found across the country in lowland and mountain forest.

The bark is reddish/gray in colour, often deeply furrowed, and quite stingy.

With thanks to the essentially New Zealand and New Zealand Nature Guy as the source for this information and images


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