Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Totara (Podocarpus totara) is a species of tree endemic to New Zealand. It grows throughout the North Island and northeastern portion of the South Island. The Totara is a medium to large tree which grows to around 20-25 m, exceptionally to 35 m; it is noted for its longevity and the great girth of its trunk. The bark peels off in papery flakes, with a purplish to golden brown hue. The sharp, dull green needle-like leaves are stiff and leathery, 2 cm long. This plant produces highly modified cones with 2-4 fused, fleshy berry-like juicy scales, bright red when mature. The cone contains one to two rounded seeds at the apex of the scales.
The wood is hard and straight grained and very resistant to rot. Due to its durability, Totara wood was often used for fence posts and floor pilings.
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