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Prumnopitys is a genus of conifers belonging to the Podocarp family, Podocarpaceae. The eight recognized species of Prumnopitys densely-branched, dioecious evergreen trees up to 40 metres in height. The leaves are similar to those of the yew, strap-shaped, 1-4 cm long and 2-3 mm broad, with a soft texture; they are green above, and with two blue-green stomatal bands below. The seed cones are highly modified, reduced to a central stem 1-5 cm long bearing several scales; from one to five scales are fertile, each with a single seed surrounded by fleshy scale tissue, resembling a drupe. These berry-like cone scales are eaten by birds which then disperse the seeds in their droppings.
The species are distributed on both sides of the Pacific, in eastern Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia, and along the mountain ranges of eastern South America from Chile to Venezuela and Costa Rica. This distribution indicates Prumnopitys' origins in the Antarctic flora, which evolved from the humid temperate flora of southern Gondwana, an ancient supercontinent.
A Chilean species, the Lleuque, widely known under the name Prumnopitys andina or Podocarpus andinus, has been treated by some botanists as Prumnopitys spicata (Molloy & Muñoz-Schick 1999); however this name is illegitimate (Mill & Quinn 2001).
Several species of Prumnopitys are used for timber.
- Gymnosperm Database: Prumnopitys
- de Laubenfels, D. J. 1988. Coniferales. P. 337-453 in Flora Malesiana, Series I, Vol. 10. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
- Molloy, B. P. J. & Muñoz-Schick, M. 1999. The correct name for the Chilean conifer Lleuque (Podocarpaceae). New Zealand J. Bot. 37: 189–193. Available online (pdf file).
- Mill, R. R. & Quinn, C. J. 2001. Prumnopitys andina reinstated as the correct name for ‘lleuque’, the Chilean conifer recently renamed P. spicata (Podocarpaceae). Taxon 50: 1143 - 1154. Abstract.
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